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Thursday, March 4, 1999 Published at 17:13 GMT


Private health care standards under review

Mrs Burwash died at the Princess Grace Hospital

Private hospitals and clinics may be forced to upgrade their standards after a patient died when she was mistakenly given an overdose of a painkilling drug.

A committee of MPs is now looking into ways of ensuring that NHS regulations are replicated in private care.

It is considering scrapping the current system of self-regulation with statutory controls.

[ image: Caroline Buckley has campaigned for three years]
Caroline Buckley has campaigned for three years
The review has been prompted by Hertfordshire woman Caroline Buckley, who has been fighting for tighter regulation of private hospitals since her mother died in tragic circumstances.

Carole Burwash died after mistakenly being given ten times the prescribed dose of the painkiller diamorphine by an inexperienced doctor at London's Princess Grace hospital.

When her condition deteriorated there were no qualified staff on duty to deal with the emergency.

It was left to staff at the NHS Middlesex Hospital to try - in vain - to save Mrs Burwash's life.

Dr Mervyn Singer, from the Middlesex, said: "I think there would have been perhaps a better procedure in terms of having monitored her after having received the epidural, and then once the problem - stopping breathing - occurred she would have been promptly resuscitated by a medical team."

Mrs Burwash's daughter hopes that the changes she has been campaigning for will now find their way onto the statute books.

Make hospitals responsible

[ image: Carole Burwash died after a mix-up]
Carole Burwash died after a mix-up
Ms Buckley said: "I would like to try to make sure that the hospitals are responsible for their patients, and therefore culpable for their patients.

"At the moment, it is the consultants who are responsible for their patients."

John Lambie of the campaign group, Action For The Proper Regulation Of Private Hospitals, said the current voluntary regulations were largely ignored by private hospitals.

The committee's findings are expected to be published by Easter.

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