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Ex-Manager Of Wales’s Largest Hospital Highlights Serious NHS Challenges Ahead.
16 December 2013
Mr Russell Hopkins, a former general manager of University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, has spoken out against the current state of the NHS, claiming that managers and politicians have ‘messed it up’. Mr Hopkins, who was the ex-manager of the hospital and which is Wales’s largest, chose to speak out as he felt patients’ lives are currently ‘endangered’.
Mr Hopkins had already raised issues about understaffing at NHS wards at weekends and had suffered bladder and nerve damage in an operation in the area in 2011, also having suffered damage to his spinal column from a spinal anaesthetic when he underwent hip surgery at Llandough Hospital near Cardiff in 2011.
As a former chair of the British Medical Association in Wales and a former consultant oral maxillofacial surgeon at the University Hospital of Wales, Mr Hopkins felt it was important to raise the current problems of mismanagement facing many NHS hospitals, and which were in turn directly impacting patients.
Speaking to BBC Wales about the experiences he had a patient himself, Mr Hopkins said:
"I didn't see a senior doctor despite me telling the nurses there were things wrong.
"Nobody paid any attention until my daughter - who's a hospital consultant - rang up from London and said 'what's wrong with my father'?"
By the time he was eventually seen by a consultant after four days, Mr Hopkins was told any further spinal treatment would be ineffective and that there was ‘no point in doing it.’
Speaking about NHS treatment in general, Mr Hopkins further said that problems are occurring throughout the NHS "fundamentally because some consultants" - not all - "are no longer looking after their patients in the way they used to do because there's a timetable system in place - the management will pay for that, but nothing else".
He added: "You cannot timetable a doctor to see how Mr Bloggs is doing because that's not on the timetable. It would have to be done in their own time.
I have been angry with the health service for some time. The politicians have messed it up."
Cardiff and Vale health board offered "unreserved apologies once again" to Mr Hopkins for his distress.
Mr Hopkins said he wanted members of the public to know about his experience because he felt as a medical professional with his experience could be affected so could others.
A spokesperson for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: "As a health board, we understand how frustrating and upsetting it is for patients when things don't go right, because we share that frustration.
"We are working very hard with our staff and surgical teams to put in place systems which mean there are always experienced colleagues available.
"While we can't comment in detail on the case of Mr Hopkins, we are aware of his concerns and have been in communication with him on the issues he raises.
"We would like to take this opportunity to offer our unreserved apologies once again to Mr Hopkins for the distress he and his family have experienced."
Professing anger at the treatment of patients and the manner in which the NHS has dealt with patient care at large, Mr Hopkins proposed three solutions to improve care: firstly to train undergraduates on the wards, and closely accompanying doctors, as well as nurses, who he says "don't do any active clinical work during their three years of training" and he then suggested that working time directives also have to be addressed because of the fact that "if you do shift work you get a scenario where people might say 'it's not my problem, I'm off'."
His final solution was that there needed to be a radical shift the professional culture amongst consultants, because "the politicians and managers are destroying the professional values. It's about checking boxes, targets and numbers".
The Welsh government said in a statement: "Every year, the NHS in Wales cares for thousands of patients safely and effectively, and the vast majority are entirely satisfied with their care.
"Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has already responded to Mr Hopkins' specific claims."
If you have experienced any form of medical mistreatment at any NHS trusts or hospitals, or want to better understand exactly what your patient rights are, Mistreatment.com are pleased to offer advice and support to you. Our specialists have wide experience of providing advice and support across a number of areas relating to potential medical mistreatment, such as misdiagnosis and delay and surgery errors, for example.