National Audit Office probe into hospital trust
THE National Audit Office has been investigating a Bristol hospital trust following a review into its pathology services.
University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UHBristol) launched the inquiry into its histo- pathology services in June 2009 after it emerged that there had been errors in testing samples of people with cancer and other diseases.
But a National Audit Office (NAO) report was called by MP Margaret Hodge after the public accounts committee she chairs was contacted by a local health campaigner.
Daphne Havercroft has been raising concerns about histopathology services at the trust since 2006 and helped set up the South West Whistleblowers Action Group, campaigning for more to be done by the trust to assure patients that services are safe. They believe that the inquiry, which was concluded in December 2010, failed to "thoroughly and fairly investigate the concerns" despite costing about £700,000.
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Mrs Havercroft sent documents detailing what she believes to be failings of the histopathology inquiry and her view that "people have not been held to account for not listening to doctors" and the amount of money that was spent on it.
Mrs Hodge wrote back saying that she had asked the National Audit Office to look into the matter and they were "taking it seriously".
Mrs Havercroft said: "The trust is trying to say this is all historic but my view is that it is not because the very problems in governance they had with the histopathology business and going back to surgeon Ash Pawade leaving in 2008 and back to not having enough paediatric heart pathologists.
"It is about time people were held to account. If they are taking risks that have an effect on people's lives, let's flush them out.
"They spent our money covering up what I think is a scandal and are trying to hide from accountability."
Chief executive of UHBristol, Robert Woolley, said the trust had "dealt robustly" with concerns and worked "tirelessly" to meet recommendations, of which only one remains.
Since the report's publication the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the foundation trust regulator Monitor have reviewed the trust's histopathology department and found they were meeting the required standards.
Mr Woolley said the trust was co-operating with the NAO.
"The NAO does not have the remit to examine the clinical safety of health services which rests with the Care Quality Commission," he said.
"Patients and the public should be reassured by the findings of the independent inquiry, two inspections by the Care Quality Commission, the conclusions reached by Monitor, and the work that has been done to implement the recommendations of the independent inquiry that histo- pathology services in Bristol are safe."