During a Parliamentary debate on the failings of Liverpool Community Health a health minister yesterday apologised on behalf of the government for letting down patients and staff. He also committed to a clinical review acknowledging unnecessary, premature patient deaths and bullying of staff under the former executive management team at the NHS Trust.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper led the Westminster Hall debate Whistleblowing in the NHS and the Capsticks report in Liverpool Community Health. Speaking for 40 minutes, MP Rosie Cooper detailed the devastating, unhealthy culture and incompetent practices which caused patients and staff to be harmed.
During the debate Rosie Cooper expanded on the information in the Capsticks Report ‘Quality, safety and management assurance review at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust’.
Ms. Cooper gave details of how nurses were required to visit patients’ homes even though guns and drugs were known to be in the houses.
How those nurses were required to work alone without any proper protection such as lone worker alarms.
The harrowing account of a district nurse being held hostage at knifepoint by the relative of a patient then seriously sexually assaulted for which the attacker received a custodial sentence.
She talked about how the bullying culture of the organisation led to a nurse with a family and long-service in the NHS to contemplate suicide.
Rosie detailed the allegation of a prisoner with dementia being put in a tumble dryer at HMP Liverpool for the amusement of staff.
Non-clinical staff were given clinical responsibilities. The person in charge of nurse prescribing was formerly a fitness instructor and the Director of Finance with no previous NHS experience was in charge of clinical governance.
During the period 2010 to 2014 as LCH cut £20 million from frontline healthcare services, the Trust Board were spending money on jugglers and unicyclists. At the same time spending £11,000 on crisis communications to handle the bad publicity rather than dealing with the issues and spending £1000 on legal advice to see if they could silence the Member of Parliament.
Speaking after the debate, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“I gave a commitment to the brave whistleblowers at Liverpool Community Health that I would expose the scandalous experiences of patients and staff. I intend to see this through to the end.
“Through the Care Quality Commission inspection reports, the Capsticks Review report and this Parliamentary debate, we have laid bare some of the wholly unacceptable actions carried out in the name of the NHS, and of the former Board and Executives which at times were inhumane.
“I welcome the health minister’s apology in recognising the extent of failure that existed at Liverpool Community Health Trust which led to it being referred to as the Mid-Staffs of the community services.
“His commitment to a clinical review is a significant result but it needs to be carried out in public. Whilst we know a great deal about what was happening at LCH, we still don’t know the full extent of the harm caused to patients.
“The NHS has a duty and responsibility to establish what harm was caused, including severity and just how many patients died unnecessarily and prematurely. That some patients suffered the excruciating pain of avoidable level 4 pressure sores where the skin had rotted away so much that the bone was visible needs to be examined thoroughly.
“The extremely poor care meted out to prisoners and the management of the prison service needs a full investigation.
“Staff harm needs to be evaluated and systems put in place to ensure it never happens again.
“Regulatory bodies need to be more aware and ensure that this can't go on under their noses
“Far too many stories of patients, patients’ families, staff and ex-staff who suffered at the hands of LCH remain untold. Each one of those individuals have a right to have their voices heard in this review.
“By no means was the Parliamentary debate the end of the matter. Although there are some within the NHS who would like it to be.
“Individuals and organisations need to be held to account for either their complicity in enabling this harm or for not doing their job competently to identify how patients and staff were being harmed.
“Now the minister has apologised perhaps it’s time that the former executive management team and the non-executive directors of Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust show some humility and remorse for the harm, hurt and damage they have wrought on patients and staff. I believe it is time for them to publicly apologise.”
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper initially raised her concerns at the poor standards of care at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust at the Commons Select Committee in November 2013. She continued to raise her concerns and those of whistleblowers over the next three years culminating in her Westminster Hall Debate yesterday.
At Prime Minister's Questions on 5 February 2014 MP Rosie called on the then Prime Minister to investigate the use of HR to bully staff in the NHS. On 22 March 2016 Rosie Cooper called on health ministers to hold a public inquiry into the failings at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust. The same day the Capsticks report - ‘Quality, safety and management assurance review at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust’ was published.