Health Minister Mark Drakeford has ordered an immediate review of the care of elderly patients at Welsh hospitals following the publication of an independent report into the Princess of Wales and Neath Port Talbot hospitals.
The report – Trusted to Care – by Professor June Andrews and Mark Butler, found a number of serious concerns about the quality of care and patient safety in the two hospitals, which are run by Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board.
The review was commissioned by Prof Drakeford after concerns were raised about patient care at the hospitals.
It makes 18 recommendations, including four for the Welsh Government, which have been accepted in full.
As a result of the report, the Health Minister has ordered:
Immediate improvements to standards of care at Princess of Wales and Neath Port Talbot hospitals.
A series of unannounced spot checks by a ministerial team of experts to check standards of care for elderly patients at district general hospitals in Wales. The spot checks will focus on the delivery of medication, hydration, night time sedation and continence care. This work will be overseen by Prof June Andrews and Sir Ian Carruthers, who has held a number of senior roles in the NHS, including chief executive of NHS South of England.
A new task group, including the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer, will lead the operation of the spot checks and report back to the Health Minister.
Prof Drakeford said:“This review does not make easy reading; it will be particularly difficult for all concerned with the care of older people in these hospitals.
“As the Health Minister, I give my unreserved apology to those individuals and their families whose care has fallen short of what they might expect from the Welsh NHS. I have been shocked by some of what I have read in this report.
“I am determined that nothing of this sort will be tolerated in these two hospitals, in this health board or indeed anywhere else in Wales in the future. I am not going to pick and choose parts of this report. The actions we need to make have been made clear and must be taken as a whole.
“That is why I have ordered a series of actions to ensure that the standards that we demand of our health service are being delivered and to reassure patients.
“I have met the chair and chief executive of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and made it clear I expect immediate improvements to patient care at both hospitals.”
All health boards in Wales will have four weeks to consider the report and its recommendations. They will be expected to carry out immediate checks and provide assurances patient care in the following four areas not being compromised:
In giving patients their medication.
In ensuring that patients are kept hydrated.
In the overuse of night-time sedation.
In basic continence care.
Prof Drakeford added: “I do not believe the failings outlined in this report are widespread in hospitals throughout Wales. But I am instigating a series of special spot checks in hospitals across the country to test standards of care and reassure patients.
“Let me be clear, while finding many areas of concern, the report also highlights what it describes as exemplary areas of care at both hospitals.
“It also makes it absolutely clear that what has happened in these hospitals is not and never has been the same as what happened at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust. We have heard that accusation far too many times - this report puts that matter to rest.”