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Hospital Healthcare Europe
Hospital Healthcare Europe

Press Releases

Take a look at a selection of our recent media coverage:

Save our hospitals election bid

31st December 2007

Trade unions have revealed they may put up a candidate in south London at the next General Election under a “Save Our Hospitals” banner to protest at NHS cuts.

Union activists are targeting the Liberal Democrat seat of Carshalton and Wallington, where they have been campaigning for months to protect jobs and services at St Helier Hospital.

Recently, thousands of local residents took part in a march as a show of support for their local hospital, and Geoff Martin, head of campaigns for London Health Emergency, said he believes there is huge interest in the idea of having an independent candidate highlighting a single issue such as NHS cuts.

He said: “This would be an ideal constituency for this to happen and unions are now actively considering putting up a candidate, especially as the future of the hospital is still in doubt.

“The huge turn-out at the public rally showed the level of public opposition to NHS cuts and there is a strong feeling that it is not being properly articulated by politicians.”

But constituency MP Tom Brake has said the Liberal Democrats are the best party to defend the health service.

Copyright © PA Business 2007

London Health Emergency

Spring clean to tackle superbugs

Leicestershire and Rutland’s community hospitals are to be given an early “spring clean” in a bid to eliminate pathogens from their wards, it has been announced.

The initiative will see cleaners washing walls, steam cleaning furniture and removing fixed equipment, such as radiators, to get to “hidden areas”, according to Leicestershire County and Rutland Primary Care Trust.

Inspections of wards will be carried out after the clean, which is expected to cost £100,000, to make sure they are up to scratch, the trust said.

Director of infection prevention and control, Anna Barrett, said: “We have a good track record of cleanliness and infection control, and we want to keep it that way.

“Our cleaners do an excellent job and this thorough clean programme is in addition to their everyday work – just like spring cleaning at home when we blitz those areas which don’t get done so frequently.

“Some bugs can live for long periods of time and the thorough clean will cover all surfaces on which they could potentially lurk.”

The programme will be launched at Hinckley and Bosworth Community Hospital on 7 January and will be followed by cleans at Ashby Hospital, Feilding Palmer Hospital, Lutterworth, St Luke’s Hospital, Market Harborough, Rutland Memorial Hospital, Melton Mowbray Hospital, Coalville Community Hospital and Loughborough Hospital.

Copyright © PA Business 2007

Leicestershire County and Rutland Primary Care Trust

Baby scans brought into digital age

28th December 2007

Expectant parents wanting to share scans of their babies with family and friends can now move the pictures into the digital age.

A new initiative, at the private Portland Hospital in central London, allows people to download videos of their unborn child onto MP3 players, as well as email them to family and friends via their computer or phone.

The 4D scans, which give a much clearer view of the child than traditional ultrasound imagery, will be available at the hospital’s new Maternal and Foetal Wellbeing Centre, which offers foetal medicine care and midwife care as well as complementary therapies and antenatal classes for expectant mothers.

It is hoped the new technology will also allow new parents the clearest images of their baby while it develops as it focuses more on the baby’s face and features than the traditional scan, which is more likely to measure foetal growth or weight.

Pranav Pandya, co-director of the Wellbeing Centre, said: “The Portland’s new centre offers everything an expectant mother might need under one roof.

“The clinicians and experts are highly specialised and are committed to delivering the very best, fast-access obstetric and foetal care for women.”

Copyright © PA Business 2007

Portland Hospital

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“Whatever next!” – Name and contact details supplied

Patients admitted “to hit targets”

Hundreds of thousands of emergency patients are being admitted to hospital in a bid to meet Government waiting time targets, research has revealed.

Figures from the CHKS Group revealed that hospitals often admit patients who have been waiting in Accident and Emergency departments in order to ensure they are seen within the Government’s target time of four hours.

The group, which provides healthcare information, suggests up to 720,000 more patients have been admitted to hospital after visiting an A&E department within the last five years, at a cost of some £2bn to taxpayers.

Dr Paul Robinson, head of market intelligence at the firm, said the same rises had not occurred in Northern Ireland and Scotland, where the targets have not been imposed.

He added: “The A&E target in England has clearly had an impact. It is only England that showed this increase, and it is difficult to see why other places did not, unless the A&E targets were the cause.”

But a spokeswoman for the Department of Health defended the introduction of the target, saying: “Targets have led to almost all patients in Accident and Emergency being seen and treated within four hours – a massive improvement on performance four years ago when a quarter of patients spent more than four hours waiting for treatment.”

Copyright © PA Business 2007

Department of Health

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“My concern and experience is that achieving the target very rapidly becomes the primary concern to some directors. Efficiency and patient care take second and third place. This results in patients being admitted, as has been evidenced, when they would  previously have not necessarily been so; in patients being moved to areas where they receive suboptimal care in situations where they would have been better off receiving appropriate care in the A&E; and in subordination of real performance mnangement systems and measures to the target itself. If we spent more time working on properly managing performance, and if we removed the punitive perception of target failure, the shortened A&E wait would occur naturally as part of real systems improvements rather than through increasing costs to the health economy.” – Name and contact details supplied

Hospital records discovered in bin

27th December 2007

An investigation has been launched after secret hospital records were recovered from a wheelie-bin in Norwich.

Norfolk and Norwich Hospital said information relating to 55 patients had been lost in a “deplorable” and “serious” breach of confidentiality”.

The notes turned up in the Bowthorpe area of the city, and were found by a member of the public as she emptied her bin.

A hospital spokeswoman said: “This is a deplorable and very serious breach of patient confidentiality and we have launched an urgent internal investigation to identify the source of this breach. This will be treated as a serious disciplinary matter.

“We have reminded all our staff of the very real responsibility they all carry to maintain patient confidentiality at all times. The rules are very clear – staff should not take patient sensitive information away from our hospitals.”

The spokeswoman said the misplaced data included the name, hospital number and brief medical details of 55 patients.

But she added that addresses, contact details and NHS numbers were not included on the papers.

Copyright © PA Business 2007

Norfolk and Norwich Hospital NHS Trust

Call to end hospital VAT charges

Hospitals in Scotland are being penalised by Whitehall officials because they are charged VAT when the hire temporary doctors, an MSP claims.

Former GP Ian McKee, who is now the member for Lothians, said Chancellor Alistair Darling is failing to support the NHS and diverting cash from medical services.

The only VAT-exempt temporary NHS employees are nurses, and hospitals currently have to pay the tax on all other health professionals they hire, including locum doctors.

Dr McKee has written to Mr Darling to urge him to to reintroduce exemptions previously used by health boards to recover the charges.

“It is ridiculous that when hiring in much needed nurses to provide temporary cover the NHS is able to reclaim VAT, but when hiring in doctors or other health professionals for the same purpose, the NHS now faces VAT charges,” he said.

“This is vital money that should be used for front-line services in the NHS, not ploughed back into Treasury coffers.

“I have written to Alistair Darling asking him to end this ridiculous situation, to change the advice and to ensure that money from the Scottish Government for spending in the Scottish NHS is not being confiscated by the tax man.”

Copyright © PA Business 2007

Scottish Government

Nine health trusts admit data loss

24th December 2007

Nine NHS trusts have admitted losing patient data, and opposition parties are now calling into to question the future of the centralised IT system.

Around 168,000 people are believed to be affected by the latest breach of data protection rules.

It follows the loss of child benefit details by HM Revenue and Customs, and the misplacement of information concerning three million learner drivers by a DVLA contractor.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “This is further evidence of the Government’s failure to protect the personal information which we provide.

“Following the HMRC and DVLA failures, we will need further steps on the part of the Department of Health to show how their planned electronic patients’ database will protect our medical records.”

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb added: “The whole culture of data management in the public sector has to change.”

The Department of Health has confirmed that City and Hackney Primary Care Trust lost the clinical details of 160,000 patients after a computer disc failed to arrive at St Leonard’s Hospital in east London.

But it said the data has been encrypted to an “extremely high level of security”, and that confidential information will not be available to identity thieves, even if the disc does fall into the wrong hands.

Copyright © PA Business 2007

Department of Health

Scottish hospital parking fees cap

Hospital car parking fees in Scotland are to be capped at £3 a day, it has been announced.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the measure is being introduced to avoid “unnecessary or excessive” charging.

However, it will not apply at two of the country’s biggest hospitals where Private Finance Initiative (PFI) arrangements are in place.

The move comes after an independent review group was established to examine the issue after concerns were raised by both hospital staff and patients.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The review group has found that the cost of car parking can be too high for staff on lower wages, for patients and for visitors and that a maximum charge should be set – but that further work is needed on what that maximum charge should be.

“That work will be done, but in order to provide protection against unnecessary or excessive charges in the meantime, I have decided to act now to introduce a cap of £3 a day.”

She added that the restrictions will be implemented at some point in January.

However, the PFI car park at Glasgow Royal Infirmary which charges £1.10 an hour and the PFI-built Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, with does have a £7 daily cap, will not be covered by the £3 restriction.

Copyright © PA Business 2007

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

Standards improve at hospital trust

21st December 2007

Standards of cleanliness at an NHS trust in Kent which was at the centre of several fatal outbreaks of the Clostridium difficile pathogen have improved, a watchdog has said.

Healthcare Commission inspectors visited the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Hospital Trust two months after a scathing report was released into infection rates.

That revealed a total of 345 people died and more than 1,100 people were infected with C difficile over a two-year period, prompting the Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, to apologise for the “truly scandalous” situation.

Dr Heather Wood, who leads the commission’s investigation team, made an announced two-day visit last week to ensure recommendations made in the wake of the problems are being carried out.

The positive news will come as a relief to managers after the trust was recently put under further pressure with the announcement it had lost personal details belonging to 244 cancer patients.

A computer memory stick containing names, dates of birth, and in some cases a few clinical details, was discovered to be missing.

The lost information related to patients at the Peggy Wood Breast Care Centre based at Maidstone Hospital, but is said not to disclose their addresses or details of their hospital consultant or GP.

Copyright © PA Business 2007

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Hospital Trust

Major German hospital group selects TomoTherapy

The largest medical group in Germany has installed TomoTherapy’s Hi Art treatment system for advanced cancer at one of its hospitals.

TomoTherapy said that its system was being used at the HELIOS Hospital Berlin-Buch, which is the latest to be built by the HELIOS Hospital Group.

The Hi Art treatment system offers advanced radiation therapy for a wide variety of cancers.

It combines integrated CT imaging with conformal radiation therapy to deliver sophisticated radiation treatments with speed and precision while reducing radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

TomoTherapy said that HELIOS wanted a “rapid installation process” and the company responded by installing the system a month after the order was placed.

The first patient treatments are scheduled to begin in January.

“The HELIOS Hospital Group is an ideal partner for us,” said Rik Van den Neste, MD, director of European sales for TomoTherapy.

“They are a leader in the private hospital movement in Germany and committed to the most up-to-date medical care. We look forward to working with HELIOS to help ensure that their cancer patients have access to TomoTherapy treatments by the end of next month.”

HELIOS Hospital Berlin-Buch is the seventh in Germany to install the TomoTherapy Hi Art treatment system.

The system was introduced in the US in 2003 and there are now more than 150 in use around the world.