Cumbria

Cumbria feeding tube death hospitals 'safe', watchdog finds

Entrance to the Cumberland Infirmary
Image caption The trust said it will "continue to make improvements in safety"

Staff at hospitals where patients died after feeding tubes were inserted into their lungs instead of their stomachs are now handling the equipment "safely", health watchdogs have found.

Two people died, in 2012 and 2015, from infections caused by inhaling food at hospitals run by North Cumbria University Hospital Trusts.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found the insertion and management of such tubes was now "effective and well led".

The trust welcomed the findings.

Michael Parke died in Whitehaven's West Cumberland Hospital in 2012 and Amanda Coulthard died at Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary in 2015.

At an inquest in Cockermouth in January 2016, chief coroner David Roberts said both patients had been neglected by staff, with the trust's policy regarding the tubes "shambolic".

Nasogastric tubes, which allow nutrients to be sent directly to a patient's stomach, were used in both cases.

A trust patient also died in 2008 due to a misplaced nasogastric tube.

Mr Roberts wrote to the government and NHS England highlighting issues and the CQC conducted an inspection in July.

Publishing its findings, the watchdog said:

  • Staff assessed the needs of patients and policies were compliant with national best practice guidance
  • There had been no serious incidents regarding the tubes since April 2015
  • Clear processes were in place to manage the progress of the action plan drawn up in response to the coroner's concerns
  • The trust should develop a policy around the use of tubes for pregnant women

The trust is still rated as "requires improvement overall" as no ratings were produced as a result of the inspection.

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