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Thousands of patients ‘put at risk’ after waiting list errors

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A hospital trust has launched a review of its patient records following a warning from external advisers that thousands of patients may have been put at risk of harm due to missed follow-up appointments.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust is receiving help from NHS Improvement, after “serious question marks” were raised by MBI Health Group over the provider’s tracking of non-emergency patients.

“It is highly likely patients have come to clinical harm as a consequence”

MBI report

MBI was commissioned by the trust to analyse its outpatient and inpatient tracking and waiting lists.

According to Health Service Journal, the MBI report revealed concerns that nearly 12,000 long-term outpatients may have been put at “significant clinical harm” and there was uncertainty over the current treatment status of hundreds of patients on waiting lists.

However, the trust said it had questions about “the entirety” of MBI’s findings and it had “not substantiated” the conclusion that patients may have been placed at risk of harm. MBI stood by its report and said the data analysed by its teams was provided “exclusively” by the trust.

The report, sent to the trust in May, found 11,940 long-term outpatients had follow-up appointment dates that were in the past, with 443 appointments dating back as far as 2015. The specialties worst affected were gastroenterology, ophthalmology and cardiology.

The report said: “It is highly likely patients have come to clinical harm as a consequence of not receiving follow-up care or checks.”

In response, the trust said it was “reviewing planned outpatient waiting lists” for the “small number of specialties affected”.

“Any patient who has been identified as having cause for concern will have been personally contacted and brought in for further assessment at an outpatient appointment,” a trust spokeswoman said.

The MBI report also highlighted a discrepancy on the inpatient waiting list relating to more than 800 patients.

It said the trust claimed 7,870 patients were on “active referral to treatment (RTT) pathways”, but found a tracking list tool listed 7,051 patients – leaving the extra 819 patients unaccounted for.

“Work is also underway to ensure that processes are in place”

Statement from CCGs

Management of the planned waiting list, for inpatients and day cases, was criticised in the report, with 500 patients having planned admissions that were in the past or missing entirely.

Some of the planned admissions dated back to 2010, while less than half of patients with admissions planned in the next three months had been allocated actual dates, the report found.

“Overall, MBI would conclude that there is a serious risk to patients at [the trust] – particularly those not on RTT pathways,” the report said. “In addition, we would have concerns that currently reported RTT waiting times are not accurate, and in fact, should be longer.”

A trust spokeswoman said it was working with “system partners” and the intensive support team to identify any potential concerns, which would be completed by early September.

“We have not substantiated the comments made by MBI that any of our patients have been placed at risk of harm,” she told Health Service Journal.

A spokesman for Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport, and South Eastern Hampshire clinical commissioning groups said: “Work is also underway to ensure that processes are in place to ensure the robust and effective management of risk in the future.”

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