Safety concerns at Alder Hey Children's Hospital

A leaked internal report at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool has uncovered significant safety concerns in its operating theatres. The review, obtained by Channel 4 News, revealed staff were "pressurised" and "shortcuts to safety processes".

'Green shoots' of change in way NHS deals with scandal

Peter Walsh
Peter Walsh was optimistic health chiefs would deal with safety concerns at Alder Hey Children's Hospital Credit: Daybreak/ITV

There are "green shoots" of change in the way NHS deals with whistleblowers and patient care scandals as health chiefs tackle safety concerns at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, an expert said.

Peter Walsh, head of charity, Action Against Medical Accidents, said the nursing directors report into care at Alder Hey was the "frankest" report into poor patient care he had ever seen.

Alder Hey was "a symptom of the NHS and staff under pressure," Walsh told Daybreak.

"It's all too depressingly familiar, but one small crumb of comfort we can take from this is unlike the situation 18 months ago, staff could at least use the safety net.

"They should have been able to raise these concerns with the trust, but they went to the CQC (Care Quality Commission) and the CQC acted and the nursing directors report to a public board meeting is probably the frankest, hardest hitting report I have ever seen.

"So there are green shoots."

Alder Hey: No evidence patients have been harmed

Chairman of the Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, Sir David Henshaw, said there was "no evidence that patients have been harmed as a result of issues identified in the report".

Sir David said:

We are confident that we are providing a safe service for our children and young people.

Theatres by nature are highly stressful, demanding working environments and we are aware that there have been difficulties within this department for some time.

Over the past year, we have undertaken a range of measures to address concerns from staff and make improvements.

Read: Safety concerns at Alder Hey Children's Hospital

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Report states 'urgent action' must be taken at Alder Hey

The latest review of the operating theatres at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, led by one of the NHS trust's own directors, warned, "The level of risk is such that urgent action needs to be implemented to avoid an adverse outcome or serious incident", according to Channel 4 News.

Under the heading "safety concerns", the review reportedly states:

  • Safety shortcuts "have created high risk activity"
  • There is "limited reporting of incidents" ie near-misses and mistakes
  • There is a belief "senior management and the board are aware of the working conditions and condone it"
  • Some individuals reported that the "working environment is hostile"
  • There are "numerous examples" of staff feeling pressurised to undertake activities "they do not believe are safe"

The leaked report adds, "The perception of mistrust of management and the board is such that there is a widespread feeling of hopelessness that change will ever be achieved".

Read: Safety concerns at Alder Hey Children's Hospital

Alder Hey Children's Hospital 'took safety shortcuts'

A leading children's hospital has taken safety shortcuts in its operating theatres which has "created high risk activity", a leaked report has claimed.

An internal review into Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust concluded that staff believe senior managers are aware of poor working conditions "and condone it".

File photo of Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool.
Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool. Credit: Press Association

The review, which has been leaked to Channel 4 News, comes more than a decade after the same trust was involved in a scandal over the retention of hearts and organs from hundreds of children.

The organs were stripped without permission from babies who died at the hospital between 1988 and 1996.