Whistle blown on conditions at King’s Mill

A former King’s Mill employee has described a catalogue of errors and poor medical practice at the hospital after it was condemned as inadequate by a health watchdog.

Wednesday, 28th October 2015, 11:16 am
Kings Mill Hospital GV

Former operating department specialist, Stephen Knowles, who left King’s Mill earlier this year, contacted the Chad after the latest inspection report from the Care Quality Commission was published last week.

In the report, the watchdog revealed that the hospital - run by Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust - was now in a worse state than when it was placed into special measures two years ago.

Mr Knowles claimed that, during his time at King’s Mill, he witnessed patients left in soiled bed sheets, departments under-staffed, staff not being listened to by management and put under too much strain.

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Describing a Black Alert at King’s Mill earlier this year - issued by medical bosses when the system is at breaking point - Mr Knowles said: “None of us knew what a Black Alert was - we were eventually told all non-emergency operations were to be cancelled because there were no beds whatsoever in the trust available.

“The hospital was on the brink of meltdown. There were patients on trolleys all night and patients on ambulance stretchers waiting to be allocated bays.”

He said that he also witnessed surgery recovery departments - used after patients come out of theatre and before they are returned to the wards - used as temporary bed space, along with day care units.

He said essential life-saving equipment would go missing from theatre and that staff complaints were ignored.

“I would go down to resus’ and find kit missing. ECG bits and C02 monitoring tubing are two examples. It is happening more and more because of a shortage of staff.

“I have seen patients in soiled bed sheets with excrement and urine dried on them.

“I would report to my line manager but nothing was being done.”

“I have seen things that should not happen, knowing that no-one will listen. I got more and more frustrated.

“People who try to whistle blow end up being ostracised and in the end are forced to leave.”

Hospital spokesman Liz Williamson said: “The Black Alert system within the trust came into force in January 2015. It is only ever used in times of exceptional pressure, for example when we receive a high number of emergency admissions. It is used across the NHS to help direct staff efforts and attention and to maintain patient safety.

“Patients would never be allowed to stay on trollies all night, they are moved to a bed, where they are checked on every one to two hours by a nurse, as part of our care and comfort rounds, therefore soiled bed sheets would be picked up quickly by nurses.

“The day case unit is never used for patients undergoing major surgery. The day case unit is dedicated to short stay surgery.

“During times of high emergency admissions during the winter, the unit occasionally cared for medical patients who had been identified as appropriate by a senior nurse.

“Our theatre recovery unit has 1:1 nursing care, and is a very safe environment.

“If a patient is delayed in recovery because the ward is full then they are cared for in their own bed.

“The resus trollies are checked daily in order to make sure they are fully stocked.

“A stock report is done every month in order to make sure stock levels are as they should be.”