'What on earth is going wrong?' - NHS campaigner criticises hospitals trust after £1.3 million deaths fine

An NHS campaigner described the actions that led to the deaths of two patients and a hospitals trust being fined £1.3 million "profoundly depressing".

Campaigner Gill George
Campaigner Gill George

This week Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust was ordered to pay a seven-figure sum after admitting failings over the deaths of dialysis patient Mohammed Ismael 'Bolly' Zaman and pensioner Max Dingle.

Mr Zaman, 31, bled to death after his dialysis tubes became disconnected, and 83-year-old Mr Dingle died after his head and neck became trapped between the mattress and railings on his baratric bed.

Gill George, who runs the group Shropshire Defend the NHS, said: "Profoundly depressing. That’s an initial response to the latest tragic news.

"Guidance wasn’t followed – so a man bled to death while receiving dialysis. Staff weren’t given training – so another man died after trapping his head in the frame of a specialist bed. Two avoidable deaths. Grotesque negligence led to both.

"SaTH was prosecuted and was fined £1.3 million. What on earth is going wrong in our hospitals?"

She added: "Two things stand out. One is staff shortages – and related to that, a lack of the funding that’s needed to provide properly staffed services. With enough staff on duty, then the kind of horror stories revealed in court are less likely to happen.

"The second is about leadership and culture. At the very top of this organisation, there is a leadership team that seems disinterested in patient safety and the quality of care. They tick boxes for NHS England – but patients seem to come well down their priority list. Sadly, so does staff welfare.

"What needs to happen now? Sorting out adequate funding and safe staffing is key. You can’t provide safe NHS care without the money and the staff to make it happen. The ludicrous Future Fit cuts plans continue to rumble away in the background, and it’s time to pull the plug on this shambles of a project. And surely, NHS England needs to stop demanding cost savings from Shropshire’s NHS. It might help if our MPs got on the case on funding, of course.

" In March this year, we saw the final report into the worst maternity scandal in NHS history. Trust leaders apologised. Now, the prosecution and fines for two genuinely shocking avoidable deaths. And trust leaders apologised. Meanwhile, the crisis in local healthcare deepens.

"This is not good enough. It’s time for change in our hospitals."

The trust's director of nursing Hayley Flavell said she was "truly sorry" about what happened with Mr Zaman and Mr Dingle, and that steps have since been taken to minimise the risks in the future.

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