Health secretary to meet NHS watchdog after apology to A&E doctors

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) was forced to apologise after ignoring evidence regarding 'staffing and capacity levels' at Glasgow's QEUH.

Health secretary to meet NHS watchdog after apology to A&E doctors STV News

Scotland’s health secretary is to meet an NHS watchdog after it confirmed it did not fully investigate doctors’ concerns about patient safety at Scotland’s biggest hospital.

It comes after 29 A&E consultants from Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital offered 18 months’ worth of evidence regarding concerns around “staffing and capacity levels” to healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS).

However, the watchdog did not ask to see that evidence or meet with consultants who flagged the concerns, instead launching an investigation and speaking with senior executives at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC).

The investigation was subsequently closed in August last year.

Neil Gray said it is of “critical importance” that medical professionals are able to raise such concerns.

Scotland’s health secretary was asked about the situation in an interview on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Tuesday and said it was “obviously not acceptable”, and confirmed he would be meeting with the watchdog.

Health secretary Neil Gray.STV News

He said: “I’m going to be meeting with Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) today in order to understand exactly what has happened in this case.

“Obviously anyone raising patient safety concerns must be taken seriously and we must ensure that there are robust processes in place so that concerns like this can be raised and can be investigated and improvements put in place.

“Healthcare Improvement Scotland should be there in order to listen and, to be fair, they did contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, they did carry out an investigation based on what they were provided.

“What they have apologised for is they have not then gone back to the consultants to consider further those concerns and the response from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde which is what they’ve apologised for.

“I’m going to be meeting with HIS today to find out exactly what has happened, why they’ve had to apologise and how we can ensure this situation doesn’t happen again because clearly it is of critical importance that medical professionals are able to raise concerns about patient safety and be taken seriously and their concerns acted upon.”

A letter from HIS chief executive Robbie Pearson, said: “I would like to offer my sincere, unreserved apology for our shortcomings in this matter and the clear distress they caused you all.”

He also offered an “assurance” that HIS will learn lessons as a result of the complaint.

The watchdog has now been presented with the evidence from consultants.

A spokesman for HIS said it first received patient safety concerns from consultants in May 2023.

It said: “Following our initial response outlining our findings, we received a complaint from the consultants about their experience of the process. We met with the consultants and agreed with aspects of their complaint and instigated action to address the issues that were raised.

“We take the findings of the complaint very seriously and are committed to ensuring that our processes for handling concerns about patient safety are robust.

“We recently received additional information from the consultants about their patient safety concerns, and this information is currently being considered.

“Meeting again with the consultants will be part of our process for considering these concerns.”

An NHSGGC spokesman said: “We are committed to improving the patient experience at the QEUH and have been working with consultants within the emergency department (ED) alongside HIS following concerns raised around staffing and capacity levels.

“The ED team are involved in hospital-wide plans to support the department by relieving pressures on the front door and improving overall patient safety which remains our top priority.”

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