BBC NEWS 3 March 2021
NHS England has ordered an independent review into a trauma and orthopaedics unit over patient safety concerns.
The investigation into NHS University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust (UMBHT) comes after concerns were raised about operations carried out by a surgeon between 2011 and 2018.
NHS England has stepped in after calls from staff and local MPs.
The trust said it was aware of “historic concerns” and had already made improvements at the unit.
The HSJ first reported that the trust had commissioned an external review into the trauma and orthopaedics department, but that review was overseen by trust executives.
Staff and MPs, including Westmorland and Lonsdale Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron, have called for a further independent investigation into the concerns.
Those calls have led to NHS England overruling the trust, which runs Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Furness General Hospital and Westmorland General Hospital, and ordering the external review.
Mr Farron said he thinks the trust is “acting well and working hard” but for “their sakes and the safety of patients it is right that this investigation is independent and removed from the trust”.
He added “there was a need to know what “problems” UMBHT had so that all involved could “learn lessons” and that “no-one should fear” that anything was “being hidden away”.
A separate review into the trust’s urology department has already begun, with the findings expected to be published in the spring.
Medical director Dr Shahedal Bari said UMBHT was “aware of some historic concerns with our trauma and orthopaedic service”.
He said the trust had “already made a number of improvements” and were “working with NHS England to continue to monitor progress”.
The trust has previously been investigated over safety concerns after failures at Furness General Hospital led to the unnecessary deaths of 11 babies and one mother.
It is common practice for organisations wanting to shrug off responsibility for their poor response to valid concerns raised previously to dismiss them as ‘historic concerns’. This really is not good enough. For those who continue to suffer the consequences of misconduct/incompetence on the part of individuals, for whose actions the organisation has vicarious responsibility, it is grossly insulting for these consequences to be trivialised as ‘historic concerns’.
It is perhaps a step in the right direction that NHS England has agreed to an independent investigation into these concerns.
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