Undercover investgation claims patients being discharged too early

28 July 2015

Undercover investgation claims patients being discharged too early

Undercover investgation claims patients being discharged too early

Ealing Hospital Deny Documentary Allegations Over Safety

An undercover documentary, which claims patients at Ealing Hospital are being discharged early to avoid financial penalties, has been rebutted.

The allegation is made in ITV's Exposure programme 'NHS Out-of-Hours Undercover', (to be broadcast 22/07 10.40pm) investigating Ealing's Urgent Care Centre.

One patient waiting to be examined is caught on camera being told to take her own temperature by putting a thermometer in her ear.

ITV's undercover reporter said staff were overstretched and she witnessed a doctor discharging a patient early to stay within the 4-hour target. The programme claimed that if they breach targets financial penalties can be incurred.

Care UK - the organisation that provides the service at Ealing Hospital - has strongly rebutted the allegations.

In a statement they say:

''ITV has refused to allow sight of any footage it has obtained by deception, but, while Care UK remains committed to investigating and learning from any incident or concern shown, it believes that overall the programme will misrepresent the NHS approved standards, assessment processes and targets used in an urgent care centre and will use selective comments, which individuals were misled into making, to give an inaccurate picture of urgent and out of hours NHS care.

''The standards and process for assessing patients are safe and appropriate to the nature of the centre, and are conducted and measured in exactly the way set out by the NHS commissioners of the service. The particular patients which Care UK understands are referred to in the documentary were fully treated and discharged properly within the appropriate target time, remaining within the centre for entirely legitimate reasons, such as to collect medicines or await confirmation of future appointments.

''A clinical safety review of Ealing Urgent Care Centre has been undertaken by senior NHS clinicians in response to ITV’s allegations and has confirmed that “there was no immediate action that needed to be taken to maintain patient safety” and state that the review team “were reassured by the responses given to our questions relating to patient safety and clinical governance.''

Southall Labbour MP, Virendra Sharma, has called for an investigation:

''There is not yet any clear evidence of wrongdoing at the Ealing Hospital Urgent Care Centre, but the allegations are deeply concerning. People rely on the NHS in their times of most need and should not be treated as statistics. I have today written to the Secretary of State for Health and Chair of the North West London Healthcare Trust to ask for an immediate investigation, and to seek assurances patient care and safety is being treated as the top priority.”

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