Survey reveals hospital blunders

STAFF at Ipswich Hospital made nearly 200 patient care blunders in just a month, a shocking new survey has revealed.A hospital watchdog last night blamed the spate of errors on the massive strain being placed on staff as swingeing cutbacks are forced through.

STAFF at Ipswich Hospital made nearly 200 patient care blunders in just a month, a shocking new survey has revealed.

A hospital watchdog last night blamed the spate of errors on the massive strain being placed on staff as swingeing cutbacks are forced through.

The disturbing insight into conditions at Ipswich Hospital was uncovered in the 2006 Healthcare Commission survey, completed by 495 members of staff.

Although the hospital performed well in most of the 28 categories it was measured against, the survey found:


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n Nearly three quarters worked longer than their contracted hours in the past year;

n Just under a third had suffered work-related stress over the past 12 months;

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n More than a third said they had witnessed at least one error, near miss or incident which could have hurt patients or staff over one month;

n More than one in ten had experienced physical violence from patients or their relatives in the past year.

Last night, an Ipswich Hospital statement said: “The survey results are very important to us and we are currently analysing them very carefully and we will publish the analysis as soon as it is complete.”

But Prue Rush, of the Ipswich Public Patient Involvement Forum, said the results provide proof of the stresses and strains faced by medical professionals, which make mistakes inevitable.

“The financial cutbacks mean nobody knows if their job is secure and they are all having to do more than one person's job,” she said.

“Something has to give and hopefully it won't be patient care but if you put the medical staff under pressure, mistakes will happen.

“It's fine to say they shouldn't happen but they will because the doctors and nurses are only human.

“The harder you push staff, placing them under more strain, the more mistakes will happen.”

Mrs Rush said she hoped the survey's findings would lead to positive results.

“These surveys do have a value but only if action is taken,” she said.

“Those in charge must take notice of the results and do something about them. I think something needs to be done nationally.

“Everybody wants to see the health service as a safe place to be. As long as we are having cutbacks, these problems will continue.”

Staff were quizzed on a range of subjects, including work-life balance, support networks and job training offered by the hospital, as part of the survey.

It found that while the majority said they worked more than their contracted hours, most employees said bosses helped give them a good work-life balance, with virtually everyone offered training and development.

Staff questioned were also asked to detail the number of “potentially harmful errors, near misses or incidents” that took place over a one-month period in 2006.

Although 39% of employees recalled such events - working out at an average of around six a day for the month - this figure was below the national average.

The number of stressed staff was also below average, while the number who worked extra hours and suffered stress was on a par with other trusts.

In the past year, the hospital has announced a number of ward closures and job losses as part of cost-cutting measures to claw back a multi-million pound deficit.

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