Complaints increase at Children’s Hospital - ‘but it’s still one of best’

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

COMPLAINTS about Sheffield Children’s Hospital have risen “slightly” over the past year.

Infection rates have also shown a “slight” increase - but the trust running the hospital says it is still one of the best in the country, recording high patient satisfaction rates and clinical standards.

And it is looking forward to work starting in the summer on a £40m redevelopment programme.

There were 120 complaints. “The most common reasons are where patients disagree with a diagnosis or treatment plan, or in relation to complications of treatment,” says Simon Morritt, chief executive of Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust in a report to councillors next Wednesday.

“We investigate every complaint with the family involved, but believe that improved communication is the key to correcting the trend.”

The trust’s rates of infection are described as among the lowest in the country, “although in common with most other trusts, we have seen a slight increase this year, particularly in community-acquired diarrhoea and vomiting”.

Seven “serious untoward incidents” are noted. They included an “over dosage” of opiates to a child, a delay in emergency diagnosis, medical records being left unattended in a public area by a courier, and a less than timely transfer of a patient between the ward and the critical care unit.

Overall, though, Mr Morritt says: “We are proud of the high satisfaction survey results that we obtain and the quality of care we provide.”

An unannounced inspection last October concluded that the Children’s Hospital “was found to be meeting all the essential standards of quality and safety”.

To address some of the cramped and inadequate clinical accommodation, building starts in the summer on a £40m patient wing.

“It is our expectation that this will materially improve the areas of below-average experience such as parking, privacy and dignity, parental accommodation and way-finding.”

Mr Morritt underlines the need to ensure families and staff are protected from the worst effects of construction.

lBranching Out Appeal, page 10; Child could have been saved’, page 20.