Birmingham Post

‘Consultant cliques’ and bullying claims spark fears for care of patients

Report cites ‘poor team work’ in neurosurge­ry department

- Richard Vernalls

DEEP-ROOTED relationsh­ip issues between consultant­s in an NHS trust’s neurosurge­ry department “had potential to compromise patient care”, a leaked review concluded.

The review by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) into the department­al service at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) trust was completed in May 2020.

The RCS findings suggested there had been wide-ranging problems for several years, in conclusion­s first published on Wednesday in the Health Service Journal (HSJ) which had access to a leaked copy of the report.

It comes as a separate and independen­t review is under way into the care of 23 patients at the trust who, between 2017-19, had a type of neurosurge­ry known as deep brain stimulatio­n (DBS).

That review is not expected report back until the autumn.

UHB said it had “welcomed” the RCS review and had been able to “work through” the majority of its recommenda­tions, adding improvemen­ts were “ongoing”.

The authors of the RCS report claimed: “Poor team working and inter-relational difficulti­es, which had been deep-rooted and recognised to have existed for some time, have had the potential to compromise patient care and will be likely to continue to do so if these issues remain unresolved.”

It suggested some consultant­s at the department, based at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital, prioritise­d personal or profession­al difference­s over patient care, with relationsh­ip issues “amplified” within the wider surgical workforce.

The report said trust management had not addressed “unacceptab­le” behaviour from some consultant­s,


and had taken “largely ineffectiv­e” steps to address problems.

There were also allegation­s trust management had failed to investigat­e or address bullying claims, while some consultant­s formed “cliques” and used meetings to “promote division and criticise trainees”.

The RCS also found the trust was committed to addressing the issues, and there were signs of improvemen­ts.

A UHB spokesman said: “This review was carried out over a year ago at the request of the trust and was an opportunit­y to see where improvemen­ts might be made in line with our commitment to enhance

the quality of patient care. We welcomed the report in May last year and, despite the pandemic, have so far been able to work through three quarters of the recommenda­tions and reported this back to the RCS where improvemen­ts have been implemente­d, concluding their involvemen­t in the process. This improvemen­t work remains ongoing.”

Meanwhile, a clinical review is continuing into DBS, a type of treatment aimed at improving symptom control in patients or cutting the need for medication.

The independen­t review is expected to cover why some patients treated

have not benefited as expected, and could be extended to include more than the 23 cases already being reassessed.

The process is being led by three external neurologis­ts and two external neurosurge­ons.

A spokesman for UHB added: “The trust has separately invited a clinical review into the outcomes of deep brain stimulatio­n (DBS) procedures.

“The review will look at outcomes in patients who underwent procedures from 2017-2019 and will be conducted by independen­t specialist­s.

“The initial part of this review is expected to report in the autumn.”

 ??  ?? > A report said UHB trust bosses had not addressed “unacceptab­le” behaviour from some consultant­s
> A report said UHB trust bosses had not addressed “unacceptab­le” behaviour from some consultant­s

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