Page last updated at 20:35 GMT, Sunday, 9 November 2008

Complaints spark hospital inquiry

Birmingham Children's Hospital
The hospital chief executive said the concerns were not over clinical issues

Services at one of England's leading children's hospitals are being investigated after complaints from its own consultants.

A review of services at Birmingham Children's Hospital was commissioned after management meetings in August.

The Observer newspaper said the review has been highly critical but the hospital said the paper was not quoting an official report from the review.

The hospital said none of the concerns related to serious clinical issues.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said he was worried by the report but that it should be looked at "in context".

Chief Executive Paul O'Connor defended the hospital, saying none of the concerns were to do with serious clinical issues.

Early next week the Healthcare Commission will look at this and I will be keeping a close eye because we do take these things seriously
Alan Johnson, Health Secretary

Doctors from a number of specialist areas, including kidney and liver transplants, have been consulted since the review began in August and a further meeting on the subject is planned for later this month.

It is believed a lack of interventional radiology, a shortage of beds in key areas, including for liver transplant and neurosurgery, and training of theatre staff have been criticised.

Mr O'Connor said staff had been upset by coverage of the report in the Observer, saying it had "no status".

But he said: "I accept that there is a report and there are operational issues, but no serious clinical issues."

Health Secretary Alan Johnson
The Health Secretary said the report worried him but praised the hospital

The health secretary told BBC One's The Politics Show: "I am very worried about that report, but let's get it in context. This is the Birmingham Children's Hospital, which has some of the finest paediatricians in the country.

"It was the consultant paediatricians themselves who were drawing attention to a problem.

"As John Black, the head of the Royal College of Surgeons, points out, there is no harm been done yet. They are talking about the possibility if we don't tackle it.

"The NHS commissioned the report as a result of consultants coming to them. Early next week the Healthcare Commission will look at this and I will be keeping a close eye because we do take these things seriously."

We believe that we have nothing to hide
Birmingham Children's Hospital statement

In a statement, the hospital said: "Birmingham Children's Hospital would like to emphasise that there is absolutely no clinical risk to patients.

"The issues that have been raised are all standard operational ones and we have agreed a plan with the PCTs and the clinicians concerned about addressing the issues raised.

"We believe that we have nothing to hide and we have approached Great Ormond Street Hospital and they've agreed to review the situation and produce a public report on their findings."

Dr Sandy Bradbrook, chief executive of Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust, said: "With the actions that are currently being taken, we are assured that there is no immediate risks to patient safety at Birmingham Children's Hospital.

"We have worked with clinical teams in a productive way to identify a number of areas and opportunities for improvement in specialist services.

"I am confident that we are now in the process of taking action to address the concerns and there are further steps to strengthen specialist children's services under way."

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