British hospitals ailing

LONDON — Eleven hospitals are being placed in special measures because of major failings, the government has announced.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the trusts, among 14 investigated for high death rates, had problems so entrenched that tough action was needed.

He cited examples of staffing problems, poor care and weak leadership as he announced the move in Parliament.

The other three trusts investigated were also told to make improvements following the review.

But the health secretary said investigators had confidence the leadership at those trusts was capable of making the changes needed.

As part of the process of special measures for the other 11, teams of external experts will be sent into the organisations to work with the senior management team.

Regular updates on their progress will also be given.

Among the problems identified were:

* Patients being left on trolleys, unmonitored for excessive periods and then being talked down to by consultants

* Poor maintenance in operating theatres, potentially putting patients in danger

* Patients often being moved repeatedly between wards without being told why

* Staff working for 12 days in a row without a break

* Blood being taken from patients in full view of the rest of the ward

* Low levels of clinical cover — especially out of hours

Hunt said: “We have taken swift and tough action to make sure these hospitals are given all necessary support to improve.

“We owe it to the three million people who use the NHS every week to tackle and confront mediocrity and inadequate leadership head on.” (BBC)

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