Beatson cancer centre told to take ‘urgent’ action

The Beatson
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A health report is calling for urgent action to mitigate future risk to patients at the Beatson Centre who become acutely unwell.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has accepted the recommendation of the report from the Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) enquiry team into the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre.

But its medical director has stressed that its own review of the service has shown that it was safe four months ago, and remains so today.

The concerns related to situations which could potentially arise in future.

The report follows warnings from Beatson consultants that a shake-up of operations could create risky staff shortages during emergencies, and their demands for action led to the HIS report.

It recommends that NHSGGC should urgently agree a model of care for managing acutely unwell and critically ill patients, and put in place a system to monitor the effectiveness of this system.

The report also wants NHSGGC to urgently restore and rebuild working relationships between Beatson consultants and its own management team.

Medical director Dr Jennifer Armstrong said: “NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde always puts the safety and wellbeing of patients at the core of clinical change.

“We welcome the report of the enquiry team and the opportunity this provides for NHSGGC management team and consultants at the Beatson to move forward in a constructive way.

“At the heart of this enquiry was the question over whether the services we have put in place at the Beatson are safe for cancer patients who become acutely unwell during their stay.”

She added: “We are pleased that the enquiry has found that the High Acuity Unit is effective, a positive and welcome development which has improved the treatment of acutely unwell patients and also those whose condition is deteriorating.

“All those involved - our oncology doctors and nurses, our critical care doctors and nurses and the Beatson management team – reported to the enquiry that the unit is working well and providing a high quality of service to patients. Patient feedback has also been very positive.

“Our monitoring and review of the service has shown that it was safe four months ago when it was introduced and remains safe today.

“We do accept however that, while our arrangements are safe and patient care has not been compromised, we can do more to mitigate any risks of introducing this new way of working.

“We are fully committed to making these improvements in partnership with our clinical colleagues.”

NHSGGC has answered the points raised by the report in detail, while stressing it considers the service is already safe and effective.

Its spokesperson said: “We accept that whilst the service is safe and effective it can be improved.

“We are committed to delivering on this by improving our written procedures – with the full engagement of medical staff –to ensure that everyone is clearer about their respective roles.

“We also accept the legitimate criticisms of communication between management and consultants and of the delays in agreeing and implementing this new safe model of care.

“We will learn from this in order to move forward in a more positive way with colleagues to deliver continuous improvement to patient services. “

The Beatson, built at a cost of £105 million on the former Gartnavel site near Glasgow’s West End, is said to be the most advanced cancer treatment centre in the UK.

It is also said to rival Europe’s top cancer hospitals in terms of facilities and equipment, and provides West of Scotland cancer patients and staff with the most cutting edge equipment, treatments and surroundings to fight cancer.

The Beatson is Scotland’s largest cancer centre and the second largest in the UK.

As a result, the workload is varied: each year, the Beatson team sees more than 8,000 new patients, and more than 20,000 courses of chemotherapy and around 6,500 courses of radiotherapy are administered. Waiting times for treatment are said to be among the lowest in the UK.