Watchdog apologises after doctors' A&E safety warnings ignored

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) has apologised after ignoring evidence regarding 'staffing and capacity levels' at Glasgow's QEUH.

An NHS watchdog has apologised after it confirmed it did not fully investigate doctors concerns about patient safety at Scotland’s biggest hospital.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) was contacted by 29 A&E consultants from Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital following concerns around “staffing and capacity levels”.

They offered 18 months’ worth of evidence to back their claims.

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 closed in August last year.

However, the watchdog upheld complaints in January this year that consultants were not given the opportunity to discuss their concerns, or present their evidence.

A letter, seen by BBC Scotland, 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: “We can confirm that we first received patient safety concerns in May 2023 from consultants at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital regarding the hospital’s emergency department.

“These concerns were considered through our responding to concerns process, which allows NHS staff to raise concerns in confidence about the quality and safety of healthcare.

“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.”

A NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesperson 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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