King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital apologises to those who caught Covid-19 on its wards
Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has become the first in the country to reach out to those who caught Covid on its wards to promise it will learn the lessons.
Today the Lynn News publishes the joint statement of Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust chairman Steve Barnett and chief executive Caroline Shaw addressing the 341 patients, or their relatives, who caught Covid in its care.
Deputy chief executive Laura Skaife-Knight said this was a ground-breaking move.
She said: “All hospitals have a responsibility to follow Duty of Candour (regardless of Covid) – however, we know that during the height of Covid having these conversations was hugely challenging as we responded to the pandemic.
“We did speak to patients and relatives at the time, however, QEH has gone one step further and to make absolutely sure we followed Duty of Candour, we took the decision as a board to contact 341 patients and next-of-kin to ensure we had the right conversations and give people the chance to ask questions.
“We believe we were the first trust to take such an approach and many hospitals have contacted us since to learn from this.”
The statement says: “As part of our commitment to the Duty of Candour, QEH has contacted every patient who contracted Covid-19 in our care, or the next-of-kin for those patients who sadly died, to ensure that they are aware that their loved one is believed to have caught Covid-19 in hospital and to ensure that they know we are very sorry for this.”
This week just three Covid patients were at the QEH, but 381 people have died there, since the pandemic began, including a staff member, healthcare assistant Chrissie Emerson.
Of the 341 who likely caught Covid in the QEH, 304 were during wave two and of these 99 died.
The remaining 37 patients from the first wave are still being contacted and the death toll is not known.
The statement from trust chairman Steve Barnett and chief executive Caroline Shaw, says: “At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, we take openness and transparency with patients and their families very seriously.
“It’s easy to say this – but a true test of an organisation’s culture is ensuring you are prepared to consistently demonstrate candour in practice, even when things get difficult.
“And this is exactly what we have done – receiving national recognition for doing so. This is of fundamental importance because it’s about staying true to our values and always doing what is right for our patients and their families.
“As part of our commitment to the Duty of Candour, QEH has contacted every patient who contracted Covid-19 in our care, or the next of kin for those patients who sadly died, to ensure that they are aware that their loved one is believed to have caught Covid-19 in hospital and to ensure that they know we are very sorry for this.
“Sadly, 341 patients definitely or likely caught Covid in our care – and following duty of candour, with great care and attention, has been one of our top priorities as we have entered recovery from the pandemic.
“Both our board of directors and quality committee have fully endorsed this approach.
“The hospital’s duty of candour exercise has been thoughtfully planned – with a task and finish group in place, a clinically-led team making the calls to patients and next of kin, a helpline in place and all tried and tested by our patients and Governors before we got started, which shaped our handling and communications for this vital project.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have continually investigated and learnt from any outbreaks and clusters of Covid cases as well as any confirmed or suspected cases of hospital acquired Covid-19.
“We have also explained to patients and their families whenever we have confirmed that a patient has acquired Covid-19 in our care.
“Most patients and their families have really welcomed having these conversations with us, some wishing to discuss their situation further and we have encouraged and facilitated this by arranging face to face meetings as appropriate.
“Many of our clinical staff who have supported this exercise worked on red (Covid) wards, and feel they have experienced closure through these conversations with families and their loved ones.
“There has been a carefully thought out ‘wrap around package’ for patients, their families and staff – with appropriate clinical psychology, bereavement and chaplaincy support in place.
“This is also our opportunity to explain to our patients and their families the actions that we propose to take and any learning which will help us to do better for our patients and their families in the future. This includes the work we need to do to improve communications between our wards and our patients and families, especially when visiting restrictions are in place, and also minimising patient moves (especially moves late at night).
“We have committed to publishing the results of this project with our patients, commissioners, staff and the communities we serve upon completion.
“This is likely to be of real benefit right across the NHS.”