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The BBC's Niall Dickson
"When management fails, patients suffer"
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Nigel Woodcock, North Lakeland Healthcare NHS Trust
"The culture of the trust was a very inward looking one"
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David Highton, Chief Executive, John Radcliffe Hosp
"We have already started doing many of the things that this review recommends"
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Wednesday, 15 November, 2000, 13:24 GMT
'Appalling abuse' at hospital
Garlands Hospital: scene of "appalling abuse"
A catalogue of cruelty to elderly patients has been revealed in a damning NHS report - and two other hospitals face massive criticism.

The abuse of mentally ill patients at Garlands hospital in Cumbria was described by the expert leading the investigation as "deeply disturbing".

The Commission for Health Improvement "hit squad" found that patients had been left tied to commodes, sworn at and deprived of food and blankets.

Another devastating NHS report has prompted the government to launch a further probe into one of the country's leading heart hospitals.

Health minister John Denham described the Oxford Heart Centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital as "dysfunctional".

The report said it was "on its knees and riven by internal conflict".

It paints a picture of a dysfunctional team

John Denham, Health Minister
It blames management failings for both poor standards of care, and lack of supervision of inexperienced doctors.

CHI inspectors will now be sent to Oxford to supervise improvement measures.

CHI described "serious service failures" at North Lakeland NHS Trust in Cumbria, which was in charge of the Garlands Hospital before its closure.

The report describes a catalogue of degrading, cruel and unprofessional behaviour by staff at the former.

CHI director Dr Peter Homa said: "The abuse of elderly people was appalling.

"At the time of our visit to the Trust we could not be sure that it could not happen again."

The trust has since apologised to the patients involved in the scandal.

The abuse of elderly people was appalling

Dr Peter Homa, CHI

Another CHI report was heavily critical of safety procedures at Carmarthenshire NHS Trust in the wake of a blunder which caused a man's death.

A 70-year-old kidney patient, Graham Reeves, had his healthy kidney removed by surgeons, leaving him with a single, failing organ.

The investigators said that hospital chiefs were not moving fast enough to make things safer for patients.

Dr Homa said: "The trust's action plan addresses the right issues, but is taking longer to implement fully than it should."

Talking about events at the Oxford heart unit, Health Minister John Denham said: "It is a very worrying report. It paints a picture of a dysfunctional team and, more than that, a failure to deal with problems when they were first raised."

He told the BBC that the hospital trust must now try to restore its reputation.

"This has been a leading heart hospital in this country and we want to get it back to that status as quickly as possible."

The review at Oxford followed the suspension of Ravi Pillair, a cardiac surgeon at the unit, in late 1999.

He was accused of inappropriate behaviour but was later reinstated.

The inquiry team also examined training in the unit after a decision by the Royal College of Surgeons to withdraw accreditation last year.

Open hostility

The team is understood to have found serious problems among staff, with poor teamwork and poor management.

It is also believed to have uncovered open hostility between staff and a serious shortage of support staff in the unit.

The cardiac unit has been the subject of much controversy in recent months. A number of serious complaints concerning patient care are also being examined.

Lynne Hutchings, the chairman of the Oxford Community Health Council, said: "I think it's a case of a culture where people don't question consultants - but that won't be allowed to continue in future."

CHI officials spent a week in hospitals in the Cumbrian and Welsh trusts and spoke to staff and members of the public to determine where things went wrong.

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