Stafford Hospital deaths 'could be repeated' in Scotland

A memorial gallery of patients who died at Stafford General Hospital
Image caption An investigation was launched following concerns about high death rates and poor care at Stafford Hospital

Some of Scotland's most senior doctors have warned that the patients death scandal in Mid Staffordshire could be repeated at a Scottish hospital.

An editorial in the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh said an urgent change of culture was needed.

It calls for a renewed focus on patient care, using more consultant cover.

Neglect and abuse at Stafford Hospital led to hundreds of unnecessary deaths between 2005 and 2008.

After the publication of the Francis Report into the deaths, Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust said it accepted its findings and that actions had already been taken to improve care.

The Scottish government said it was considering the Francis Report in detail and while not complacent was proud of the approach to healthcare in Scotland.

The warning about the situation in Scotland comes in the editorial written by the president and vice presidents of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

It states: "Let us be under no illusion that the problems encountered in Mid Staffordshire were a localised, or isolated, happening.

"The contributing circumstances have the potential for this to occur in any hospital under pressure, and leave no room for complacency.

"The lessons learned here are too important to ignore, must be acted upon and result in cultural change to avoid repetition. If we do not, we will have failed the patients whose best interests we claim to represent."

Standards 'hotline'

The authors add: "We believe the NHS has lost its focus, that now is the time for the NHS to re-commit to the central importance of high quality care, and to foster a culture in which the delivery of this care is placed above all else."

The editorial also reveals a range of actions in response to the Francis Report, including the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh's intention to establish a confidential standards "hotline" for members witnessing poor quality care.

President Dr Neil Dewhurst said: "The Mid Staffordshire Inquiry report made harrowing and depressing reading for all with an interest in standards of care and presents a litany of failings which occurred at all levels.

"While patients should be reassured that there is much high quality care provided by the NHS, there is potential for the events in Mid Staffordshire to be repeated in any hospital in Scotland or the UK. We must not allow this to happen."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "The standards of care highlighted by the Francis Inquiry were completely unacceptable, and no patient should receive poor levels of care when they go into hospital.

"We are considering the recommendations in detail, to identify how the lessons learned could be relevant for the NHS in Scotland.

"While there is no room for complacency, we are proud of the integrated, collaborative approach to healthcare in Scotland."

He added that Scotland was the first country in the world to implement a national patient safety programme across the whole healthcare system and has some of the safest and best hospitals in the world.

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