Patient care at Beatson centre putting cancer patients ‘at risk’

THE running of Scotland’s largest cancer centre poses “an unacceptable risk” to patient safety, a report has found.

The report criticised the care arrangments for patients at the Beatson. Picture: John Devlin

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) called for immediate action to tackle problems at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, in Glasgow, following a visit in July.

In May, 86 professors and consultants wrote to the General Medical Council (GMC) with concerns that the shake-up of acute services in Glasgow following the opening of the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital would impact on critically ill patients at the Beatson.

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A report published yesterday, said: “The current arrangements for managing acutely unwell patients at the Beatson pose an unacceptable risk to the quality of care for patients.”

HIS found there had been a serious breakdown in relations between management and oncologists at the Beatson, with evidence of “deep mistrust, poor communications and an adversarial relationship”.

The lack of high dependency care services at the site, which have been moved to the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital were also a cause for “significant concern”. The 24/7 anaesthetic cover at the centre was deemed to be economically unsustainable, and there were “delays and confusion” .

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was asked to urgently agree a model of care for the management of critically ill patients, and to rebuild trust between consultants at the Beatson and the NHS board.

Dr Richard Simpson, Labour public services spokesman, said: “This is serious, and the warning signs have been in place for months. To have a report which says the current arrangements pose an unacceptable risk to the quality of care for patients is a damning indictment.”

The health secretary must intervene to restore patient confidence, warned Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw.

Medical director Dr Jennifer Armstrong said NHS GGC accepted the recommendations and would work to make improvements.

She said: “All those involved – our oncology doctors and nurses, our critical care doctors and nurses and the Beatson management team – reported to the inquiry that the unit is working well.”