Doctors’ letters highlight fears for patients’ safety

Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.
Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.

An urgent review into patient safety has been called for after letters from three doctors highlighting concerns at Lincolnshire hospitals.

The letters include one from a surgeon who complains of being “coerced” into doing things which are unsafe.

A second refers to surgeons carrying out more operations than is safe in order to meet targets and the third from a clinical director warns the chairman of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, Paul Richardson, that there has been a shift towards meeting targets at the expense of patient safety.

The trust runs Pilgrim Hospital, Boston (pictured).

The letters have been released by Lincolnshire Independent councillors after it was announced the trust is one of 14 to be investigated as part of an inquiry into death rates following the scandal at Stafford Hospital.

Independent councillor Chris Brewis, who is a member of Lincolnshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, said he was “shocked” at the revelations in the letters, adding: “We cannot allow the disgraceful culture highlighted in the Mid-Staffordshire report to put Lincolnshire patients at risk.

“I am appalled that we have looked at safety before as a committee but these letters, which were not made available to us at the time, suggest we may have been misled.

“What else is being covered up? The national mortality data shows Lincolnshire’s hospitals at the wrong end of the league table.”

And Phil Scarlett, who is to stand as an independent councillor in South Holland and resigned from ULHT as a non-executive director after £0.5m was spent gagging a former chief executive who raised concerns about safety, said the new regime is putting targets before patient care.

He said: “I call on chairman Paul Richardson to account for the £0.5m and these letters which have been concealed.

“He should resign to restore patient confidence.

“We will also consider whether we need to go to court to challenge the legality of the suppression of documents from the public,”

Leader of Lincolnshire Independents Marianne Overton said, if elected in May, she would ensure there was an urgent review of the quality and safety of patient care.