Statement from South London Healthcare NHS Trust, in response to claims made by some individuals in the media today
People living in South East London can be assured that they will receive amongst the safest hospital care in England from hospitals within South London Healthcare NHS Trust.
We understand that a small group of people have made claims about this and other issues about the care provided in our hospitals – the Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich, the Princess Royal in Bromley and Queen Mary’s in Sidcup.
Our staff come to work to do what we all joined the NHS for – to look after people who need our care and treatment when they are unwell. In common with other hospitals that treat large numbers of patients, we do not always get everything right. We are open about this, and at the same time we are proud of the very significant safety improvements that have been made since the Trust was formed. The main reason for the merger was to improve quality and safety.
We know from external assessments by Dr Foster (who assess the safety of care in all hospitals in England) that people who receive care in our hospitals benefit from care which increases the chances of survival compared with the average in England. This is not data produced by the Trust, but by a well respected organisation which is independent of the Trust. A number of 100 indicates that the likelihood of people surviving their illness in the hospital is the same as the average across England.
If the number is higher it means people have less chance of surviving their illness than the average across England. In SLHT’s hospitals, it is 77. This means that people are much more likely (by nearly a third) to survive than die compared with the average hospital in England.
Our first priority when we merged was to improve safety and we have done that – measured not by us, but objectively by an expert organisation. Our staff should be proud of this, and our patients should be reassured by this – knowing that your local hospital will give you a better chance of survival than others is reassuring to people who may become unwell, and rightly want to know they will get the treatment which will help them recover.
One of the ways we achieved this was to concentrate care into larger units – and this was achieved through the changes to A&E and acute medicine and surgery at Queen Mary’s hospital. We know many people were, and remain unhappy about that decision.
However, that decision has helped save many people who would otherwise have not survived. Whilst unpopular – this has to be the right thing to do. It was not about cuts, but about improving people's chances of surviving illness and has proved to have done exactly that.
Transferring clinical resources into larger concentrated units and increasing the senior Consultant supervision of patients is accepted by almost universal clinical opinion as the best way to improve patient safety.
We publish, monthly, a range of patient outcomes here on our website
We know that we still have more to do on the experience that people have– the way in which we care for people, rather than the actual ‘technical’ treatment that we provide. We have, and continue to work closely with the Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley LINks, and Age Concern, we are pleased that patient satisfaction has risen in the past year faster than in almost every other London hospital. This year’s national patient survey showed SLHT having the 3rd most satisfied patients in London for Outpatients. We have made significant improvements in the amount of time that patients wait for treatment in South London Healthcare – and are now meeting the national waiting times which is again good news for people who live locally. We are not complacent and know we can do more, and are committed to doing so.