'Systemic' problems within Jersey's rheumatology department revealed by review

The Health Department were asked to audit the records of hundreds of patients after concerns were raised over record keeping, case management and communication. Credit: ITV Channel

Poor note-keeping, "inappropriate" prescriptions and a failure to treat patients' conditions are among the failings within Jersey's rheumatology service highlighted by an external review.

The Royal College of Physicians was called in to investigate the department after concerns were raised about the way it operated.

Last month, patients said they were not surprised to hear a review had been launched, telling ITV News concerns first emerged following the departure of two senior consultants in the department who were replaced with visiting doctors.

Jersey's Health Minister, Deputy Karen Wilson, said: "This initial feedback from the Royal College of Physicians highlights some systemic governance problems in the rheumatology service that are likely to be present in other parts of Health & Community Services."

But, she added the department had already taken steps to address them: “The Royal College has said it was reassured to hear that steps were being taken to develop an open and transparent culture within [the department] and to implement a governance framework that allows scrutiny of all aspects of healthcare.

"Nobody should be in any doubt about the seriousness of this review and these initial findings."

The Minister went on to say "it is clear" that the department had "fallen behind ‘best practice’ in a number of areas" and needed to catch up.

She added: "Work is proceeding on improvements recommended last year in the external review of governance and quality of care and this initial Royal College feedback underlines the need for a relentless focus on the strengthening of governance within HCS through the establishment of the proposed HCS Board."

The Health Minister proposed appointing a new board to oversee the Health Department. Credit: ITV Channel

The Royal College of Physicians' review recommended a more "integrated relationship" between primary and secondary care and reduced reliance on pharmaceutical companies for drug information and training.

Recommendations from the Royal College of Physicians include:

  • Greater access to physiotherapy and pain services for rheumatology patients.

  • Education sessions for patients newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Improved communication with patients.

  • More regular updates from the hospital pharmacy.

The audit is set to be completed by the end of June.

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