Crow Investigation: Royston patients moved to hospital with worse safety record

PATIENTS moved after the emergency closure of Royston Hospital have been transferred to a hospital with a worse safety record and where redundancy “is an inevitable consequence” of the health care reshuffle, a Crow investigation has revealed.

The information came to light after the Crow obtained email exchanges between Herts Community NHS Trust board members exposing internal safety and job concerns.

On April 17 inpatient care was moved from Royston to Hitchin due to staffing concerns but a risk review showed Hitchin Hospital had 10 more serious incidents than the London Road site in the three months leading up to the inpatient transfer.

Dr Hemal Desai, medical director, received the email on April 29, with the document revealing Hitchin Hospital had 24 incidents – including an MRSA patient, a patient absconsion and five bed sore cases. Royston suffered 14 incidents, the majority of them falls.

A complaint was also levelled at the trust after a patient deteriorated while being cared for in Hitchin.

Royston MP Oliver Heald said: “We were promised that Royston patients would be treated in Royston and there would be no transfer, I was very annoyed when our patients were sent to Hitchin Hospital because the staff who looked after them there were excellent and very highly thought of.

“The decision to move the patients to Hitchin was wrong and I am shocked to hear that the safety record of Hitchin is not as good as Royston Hospital.”

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The trust defended the temporary move as Hitchin has a higher bed capacity.

“The decision was taken to move on a temporary basis inpatient services to Hitchin for its greater bed capacity and staffing issues,” said an NHS spokesman.

“Hitchin has the same environmental and care challenges to staff as Royston, and this measure will only be for a short time until the new service plan is ready.”

The revamp is part of an overhaul of intermediate care in the town which will see Royston Hospital close and be redeveloped into a care home, with the outpatient clinics moved to a �1m extension to the Melbourn Road Health Centre.

Although the plans for the buildings are moving forward, questions remain over possible redundancies with internal figures estimating the possible pay-out to Royston staff at �327,239.

Health bosses have previously said that they will try and redeploy to other internal positions but the interim director of work force, Krystyna Ruszkiewicz, told her counterpart at NHS Hertfordshire, Alan Farmer, “we just don’t have the posts to redeploy them to and therefore redundancy will be an inevitable consequence” (of the move).

No redundancy notices have been issued and a spokesman for the trust has said that it never “ruled out” the prospect.

“We have been keeping staff informed about what is going on and we are talking to them about issues, we never ruled out redundancies but we are making every effort to redeploy them,” a trust spokesman said.