Hospital Trust: Disappointed at reporting of health story

Re ‘Revealed: plastic left inside patient’ (Scarborough News, March 6).

I must start by saying that this is the first time since my involvement with Scarborough Hospital began that I have felt compelled to write.

I believe that we enjoy a good relationship with your paper, and through our press office we are always willing to give information and statements in response to queries from your reporters, whether the story is positive or negative about our organisation.

This is why I was somewhat surprised and disappointed to read this article. As you will be aware, we have no issue responding to ‘bad news’, and I fully accept that, on the occasions we get things wrong, we are held to account for this. What I cannot accept is a story like this which is tabloid in nature and doesn’t serve to give the public a fair view of what has happened.

I think that, ironically, this type of reporting suppresses open and honest debate rather than encourages it.

The sensationalist and disproportionate tone is misleading and is far from what we have come to expect from your paper. It is likely to cause unnecessary alarm to the public, particularly as the article strongly implies we are an organisation that ‘hushes up’ errors.

Contrary to the assertions of your reporter, we are wholly committed to being open and honest. Staff are encouraged to report any incidents of concern, and these are investigated so that lessons can be learned. This learning is shared within the organisation, and reported to other organisations as appropriate.

Furthermore, we always inform patients and apologise to them if they are involved in any sort of incident, not because we are forced to do so as suggested in this article, but because it is the right thing to do and patients have every right to expect this from us.

There is, as I hope you can recognise, a clear difference between reporting and investigating incidents in the correct manner, keeping the patient and their family informed throughout, and sharing confidential information about staff or patients (who have not chosen for this information to be released) with the media and general public.

Our decision not to disclose the report in full is reasonable and in line with data protection and the Freedom of Information Act, and does not constitute a cover up or a conspiracy on our part.

In responding to your reporter on this story, we carefully considered what information we could readily disclose without compromising the patient’s identity, and gave details about the incident along with a statement explaining that it has been investigated and changes made as a result. It also explained that the patient made a full recovery.

Patient safety is continually improving at Scarborough Hospital, as it is in all of our hospitals, and we are never complacent.

As we have stated, and I must stress this point, Never Events are rare. The approach we are taking to identifying incidents and encouraging open and honest reporting is actually a good news story and one that should help people in Scarborough to have increased confidence in their local hospital.

Patrick Crowley

Chief Executive