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Trust confirms two suspensions over A&E 'irregularities'


A foundation trust has suspended its nursing director after launching an investigation into allegations of ‘irregularities’ in its accident and emergency waiting times figures.

Wirral University Teaching Hospital foundation trust has confirmed two suspensions over the allegations relating to the trust’s Arrowe Park Hospital, although it would not confirm their names as nursing director Michael Monaghan and department manager Maria Jeffery.

Chief executive Len Richards said: ‘We recognise we are dealing with serious allegations and we are determined to get to the bottom of them as quickly as possible.

‘In the meantime, we have taken steps to ensure the accuracy of the reporting of performance against national A&E waiting time standards. Validation of data is currently being undertaken by another department in our trust.

‘We are also supporting the continued provision of excellent care by the staff in A&E. Five senior clinical managers have been seconded on a rota basis to support A&E staff in ensuring patients are seen as quickly as possible, while still receiving the highest standards of care.’

He said the individuals were suspended “without prejudice”, which is “a neutral act that facilitates an investigation and does not imply any wrongdoing”.

The trust said: ‘The investigation began at the beginning of July immediately after concerns were raised from within the organisation.’

The government requires at least 98 per cent of patients to wait less than four hours in accident and emergency. Wirral’s performance in 2008-09 was 98 per cent, in 2007-08 it was 98.2 per cent.

The trust has not confirmed the names of the individuals.

A spokeswoman for Monitor, which regulates foundation trusts, said: “Monitor has been made aware by the trust that they are investigating possible issues with data validation relating to performance against the four hour A&E waiting time target.

‘We will be monitoring the progress of this investigation closely, and will await the outcome before taking any decision on regulatory action.’


Readers' comments (6)

  • Why all the kerfuffle? "Massaging" of figures and "creative analysis" of waiting times in A&E Departments has been going on for time in memorium!!! Well at least since the target obsessed bozos that pass for a government these days, introduced ludicrous national waiting standards in AEDs. The patients don't get seen or sorted out any quicker when they leave A&E; they and the problem just get moved to another area which hasn't got waiting times to breach - so, still waiting but different environment and the illusion for patients that they are "getting somewhere". Now if that isn't creative and "irregular" I don't know what is!
    In addition, you can bet both suspended managers will be on full salary whilst the investigation is ongoing before being completely exonerated. Boy, oh, boy - the NHS could give masterclasses in how to waste money!
    And as for another department within Arrowe Park Trust now validating A&E data - who, I wonder, is validating that department's validation of that data???

    I have worked in the NHS for 34 years and ultimately nothing changes -
    "We the willing, led by the unknowing, are still doing the impossible for the ungrateful; for so long we have done so much with so little, we are now demoralized enough to try and do everything with nothing!"

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  • Margery Mary Hawkins

    As a night nurse student, trying to get through too much work between 5am and 7:30am . . Night Sister, "You have recorded these cups of tea before you served them!!". Me, "Yes, Sister, but I know who is going to have a cup of tea". I got away with that one . . .

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  • I have now been nursing for 40 years. I entered nurse management in the early 80's. A colleague gave me a book, much used by "admin" called "how to lie with statistics. Says it all really, does it not.
    Massaging figures is not new. But with so much interference by people who do not know one end of the patient from the other, Just highlights why so much is going wrong. The only people suffering are the patients.
    I had the forsight and insight to get out of management in 1990 as I could see the writing on the wall. I could not slip across the boundary and be a number crunching yes man/woman.
    Nurses need to focus on quality of care delivered to a high standard.
    When will nurse managers "bite the bullet" stand up and be counted and insist on putting the "patient first" If that takes longer than government dictates, then so be it.
    A/E's must update their practice, as in so many the pratice of patient management within these departments is little changed from the 60's. I suspect, their lies the problem. Too entrenched in the past is a major flaw and a recipe for disaster.

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  • While reporting waiting times etc wrongly is wrong, I would suggest that if those on high want to know what actually goes on, they stop setting ridiculous national targets which have no relevance whatsoever to the care that people need. All that happens is that departments get so focussed on meeting targets is that there is less emphasis of the provision of high quality care.

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  • P Rogers

    What’s surprising about this story is that it appears that a Director of Nursing might possibly be brought to book, not something that happens very often. The fact that issue is target irregularities rather than patients lives says a great deal about current priorities within the service, nonetheless it’s reassuring for those at the sharp end of service provision to know that it isn’t always just them that carry the can for institutional failings, although it’s a shame the same rigour wasn’t applied in Mid-Staffordshire and at Brighton and Sussex. Assuming the allegations prove to be correct, I wonder what the likelihood of the NMC talking action is?

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  • We have the same issue in our Trust. It has been going on for quite a few years but, since the A&E targets have become more 'spotlighted' the target focused management seem to forget about the professionals working in often pretty poor working conditions with long hours and often no breaks for the staff.

    Monitor are visiting our Trust in a few weeks' time and I believe it is important that they are made aware.

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