University Hospitals Birmingham 'failing to take patient safety criticism seriously'

ITV News' Stacey Foster spoke to the father of a junior doctor, who had worked at the hospital trust and took her own life in June 2022

A hospital trust in the Midlands is being criticised for not taking incidents of patient safety seriously. 

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman says its investigations have uncovered a number of significant concerns around the culture and leadership at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB). 

A letter, sent to the interim Chief Executive of UHB, states concerns about the “defensiveness of some senior leaders at the Trust in relation to recent and ongoing investigations, eroding confidence that there is a willingness to accept accountability or learn from failings”.

This was specifically in response to patient safety incidents and one avoidable death, the Ombudsman said.  

Since the Ombudsman triggered the Emerging Concerns Protocol in August 2022, the Trust has made some changes to its leadership team with the appointment of a new Chair and an interim Chief Executive.

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Birmingham said: “The Chief Executive has responded to the PHSO’s letter, to provide reassurance that their concerns have been taken seriously and we have been working to arrange further meetings to agree how our organisations can work better together in the interests of our patients and staff.

Good Hope Hospital is part of University Hospitals Birmingham.

“We are committed to working with the PHSO, to ensure that all families have a clear understanding of any issues relating to their loved one’s care.”

In December 2022, the NHS announced there would be three reviews carried out at University Hospitals Birmingham. 

The first, which is being carried out by Professor Bewick, was initially supposed to report back in January but was delayed again last week (9 March). 

A spokesperson for NHS Birmingham and Solihull said: “Professor Bewick and his review team have concluded their work on the initial Governance Review and we want to publish the report as soon as possible, so that we can create the backdrop for University Hospitals Birmingham to improve. 

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...

However, we have had to put additional processes in place so various organisations and individuals have time to respond to the review and this means there will now be a slight delay in publication.”

Two other reviews are being carried out by the Trust and NHS England. 

The father of a junior doctor, who took her own life in June 2022, says he hopes the review into culture and leadership at the trust creates change. 

Dr Vaishnavi Kumar had been working at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where she was training. 

Dr Ravi Kumar says that in a note his daughter wrote before her death, she blamed the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where she worked.

He said: "Summing up in the last paragraph she said: 'it's all because of the QE and she apologised for what she is doing, she said she can't take it anymore'.

Dr Ravi Kumar says he is waiting on the review to see if any action will be taken regarding the experience his daughter detailed.

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Birmingham said: “Dr Vaishnavi Kumar was a much loved and respected doctor, who was popular with colleagues and patients alike.  

“Her unexpected death was a tragedy and our heartfelt condolences remain with Vaishnavi’s family.

“We have reflected on our response to Vaishnavi’s death, have learnt lessons from this and are acting on them. Dr Kumar wants his daughter’s death to result in improvements in the support offered to all doctors in training and to see a change in the culture of the Trust.

"We are very pleased that he has agreed to work with the Trust on this.”

  • If you would like to share your experiences please email