Friday, 7 February 2014

St. Peter's Hospital, Chertsey; saving pennies costs lives.

St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey is keeping the Coroner’s Court in Woking busy these days, in this particular case it has taken nearly two years to get a verdict which is an unacceptable delay for the family.

I’ve also got fairly cynical about the apologies made by Chief Nurse Rankin – I’ve read too many of them in the year I’ve been doing this blog.

Here she is apologising because a nurse was not allowed to use a towel to clear up urine spilt on the floor; it cost too much money.

Presumably the cleaners, who once used to work for the hospital and got paid a proper wage with proper job security, have now been replaced by contract cleaners. So I’m guessing the nurse (who shouldn’t have had to be doing this any way) didn’t have anyone to do it properly for her.

I’ve put the apology that Chief Nurse Rankin meant to give at the end of this piece;  

Get Surrey - 30 January 2014                                          


Chlorine gas released during a spillage clean-up at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals was a significant contributing factor in the death of a patient, according to a coroner.

William Kent, 90, of Chestnut Grove, Staines, was admitted to hospital following a fall in 2012 and was being nursed back to health at the time.

The inquest at Woking Coroner’s Court last Thursday (January 23) was told that an attempt to clear up spilled urine played a part in Mr Kent’s death.

One of the nurses on the ward noticed the spillage and went to clean it.

It had become practice on the ward not to use towels to clean up spillages, on the grounds of cost, so instead she went to a store room and collected ‘haztab’ granules designed to clear away blood and stains.

But these tablets should not be mixed with urine as they react and produce chlorine gas.

The nurse told the court: “I put granules on the floor. I left them for 10 minutes.

“I came back to clean up the granules and noticed that my eyes were quite watery.

“It was like going to a swimming pool.”


The tablets, she said, had been used before to clear up spills and she thought it was fine to do so in this instance.


Dr Karen Henderson, the assistant coroner for Surrey, found that Mr Kent was generally faint of health and his heart condition was also considered to be a contributing factor in his death.


However, she said it was clear that the chlorine gas was a significant contributing factor.


Ashford and St Peter’s chief nurse Suzanne Rankin responded to the conclusion by saying: “Firstly, I would to say that our thoughts are with Mr Kent’s family.


“We are sorry for their loss and for the distress caused at what is already a very difficult time.


“We have only just received the coroner’s findings and are awaiting a more detailed notice from them, which will guide our next steps.


“In the meantime, we would like to reassure Mr Kent’s family that we have taken this incident very seriously and as soon as the problem with the cleaning granules was discovered, we removed them from use in our hospitals.


“We also reviewed our infection control and cleaning policies to ensure that all housekeeping and ward-based staff know what to do in the event of a spillage.


“Going forward, we will be looking at our infection control training, specifically ensuring that staff know which cleaning products should be used in different situations.


“We have already been in touch with Mr Kent’s family and would be very willing to arrange further contact if they would find it helpful.

“We would like to assure them that we have already made several changes as a result of this incident and will be quickly implementing any further learning across our hospitals.”

This is the apology that Chief Nurse Rankin meant to give;

“On behalf of the management of St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey, I am so sorry that one of our money saving ideas turns out to have cost a patient his life. As Chief Nurse, patient safety and educating nursing staff in basic Health and Safety should be my prime responsibility. I am particularly sorry that a decent nurse who thought she was doing the right thing has now got to live with this.”

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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