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Patient deaths investigated

6th July 2012

An investigation into 25 deaths at a London NHS trust is being conducted after poor record keeping meant it lost track of hundreds of patients.

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Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea Councils raised concerns after Imperial College Healthcare admitted 900 patient’s records were incomplete, leading to a review group being set up to look into 74 patients.

Doctors found delays over data issues did not cause harm in 49 cases, but 25 cases remain under investigation.

The poor quality record keeping saw 3,500 patients waiting for longer than 18 weeks for treatments or operations and some cancer patients on a waiting list for up to two years when they should have been seen within two weeks – meaning some may have died or suffered unnecessary complications.

The three local authorities also wrote to the trust raising concerns about a lack of openness and transparency.

Councillor Sarah Richardson of the Health Policy Scrutiny Committee at Westminster Council, said: “Imperial College NHS Trust have acted dangerously and irresponsibly by allowing patients entrusted to their care suffer a possible deterioration of their condition.

“Managers were more worried about their reputation than about patient safety. In a public forum they said no-one had come to harm. We believe they deliberately misled the council.”

The Trust, which runs Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea and St Mary's hospitals, said it did not believe any patients came to serious harm as a result of the lost data.

The Department of Health described the situation at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust as “completely unacceptable.”

 

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