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05.02.2021

Patient safety at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust – Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull statement

Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull is concerned about the issues around patient safety highlighted in the recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) reports following inspections at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital and Good Hope Hospital in December.

We recognise that everyone in the NHS is under severe pressure during the pandemic, and that staff are doing an excellent job in unprecedented circumstances. This is reflected in much of the feedback we have heard about the hospitals in question, with patients expressing their gratitude for the high quality care they have received.

However, we have also heard concerns about issues such as lack of communication around treatment and poor experience of discharge, alongside specific incidents involving falls and infection control.

In light of the CQC report, Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull has contacted University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust for urgent information on the specific actions they intend to take and the timescales to address the issues raised.

Richard Burden, Chair of Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull, said:

‘Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull is very concerned by what the CQC investigation has found. We are urgently contacting University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust to get more details of the action they are taking to address the issues that have been raised and timescales for putting things right.

 The central message here is the real pressure that our hospitals are under in relation to staffing. The fact that NHS is short of nurses and other healthcare professionals has been known for a long time now. But when you add a pandemic into the mix, the consequences can be really severe, with staff overstretch leading to poor communications with patients and, in extreme cases, the risk of patient safety being compromised.

 Faced with these pressures, staff working in the NHS do an incredible job and feedback we have received from patients reflects the gratitude that people feel about the efforts that NHS staff put in and about the care they receive.

 But we have also had some feedback on incidents that are consistent with some of the concerns raised by the CQC. Those concerns must be addressed and the Trust must also make sure that communications across all the hospitals in the Trust are improved to ensure lessons are learned and shared for the benefit of patients – whichever hospital is caring for them.’

Healthwatch Birmingham and Solihull encourage members of the public to continue to share their experiences of the hospitals in the report and any other health and social care services in Birmingham and Solihull with us. This feedback is communicated to regulators such as the CQC and NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (BSol CCG). We also alert providers to specific feedback about their services, and give them an opportunity to respond.

Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull is completely independent of the NHS and social care services. We offer a way for people to share their experiences of health and social care services so areas for improvement can be identified, and we work with services providers to help them make changes the public need. People can leave confidential feedback on our Online Feedback Centre for Birmingham or Solihull or by email info@healthwatchbirmingham.co.uk or enquiries@healthwatchsolihull.org.uk

We also provide the public with information and answers to questions about health and social care services through our free, friendly and confidential Information and Signposting service. Our Information and Signposting service can be contacted on freephone 0800 652 5278 (Birmingham) or 0808 196 3912 (Solihull) or by email info@healthwatchbirmingham.co.uk or enquiries@healthwatchsolihull.org.uk

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