Cancer test reports highlight King’s Mill failings

NMAC11-1277-5''Kings Mill Hospital
NMAC11-1277-5''Kings Mill Hospital

DOZENS of women who received incorrect breast cancer test results are to be contacted by hospital bosses about the damning findings of two official reports.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Royal College of Pathologists were called in to investigate King’s Mill Hospital in October after it was revealed that 120 women had their breast cancer treatment disadvantaged because they received incorrect oestrogen receptor (ER) test results.

The reports have identified a number of failings that led to the errors being made between 2004 and 2010, as well as positive actions that have been taken to address problems that were occurring.

Bosses at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are now contacting the 79 women who needed a review of their cancer treatment as a result of the test errors, letting them know if the findings will have a consequence on the advice given.

Dr Nabeel Ali, executive medical director, said: “The quality of care we offer to our patients is of paramount importance to us, and that is why as soon as we became aware that the tests for some women had been under-reported we immediately carried out a full investigation.

“Back in October 2012 we contacted the 79 women affected by these pathology errors to apologise unreservedly for what had happened, and to offer them an urgent appointment with their breast specialist to discuss whether any changes to treatment were needed.

“We will now consider this latest report and will discuss the findings with the Royal College of Pathologists to consider if any further action is required in light of their report.

“We will be writing to the women we contacted previously to advise them of the publication of this recent report and to let them know that if this has any consequences on the advice given previously, we will contact them directly.

“The majority of women remain under review in our clinics and so we will be able to continue to discuss their care with them directly to ensure they remain on the appropriate treatment pathway.”

The CQC report found that the hospital’s consultant histopathologists realised that there were problems with ER testing and after raising concerns, outsourced this service to Nottingham University Hospitals Trust in February 2011.

The main problems were technical and cultural, relating to outdated laboratory equipment and a ‘trust culture of short-term cost-cutting’, as well as problems with retaining staff and communication within the trust.

Eric Morton, interim chief executive, said that measures have been taken to rectify these areas of concern, which were also raised by Monitor, the health care regulator.

“It is vital that this Trust has the stability, governance and leadership, including clinical leadership to put it on a sound footing for the future,” he said.

“That is why we put clinicians in charge of our clinical services back in December of 2012. We have put clinical decision making at the heart of our business, speeding up decisions and devolving responsibility and accountability to the place where it can really make a difference – the clinical teams.”