NHS Wales has been accused of covering up unusually high death rates at its hospitals, and ignoring calls to launch an investigation by England’s most senior doctor.
Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS’s medical director, sent emails to his Welsh counterpart Chris Jones warning of “worrying and persistently high” death stats. He offered to help with an investigation but never received a reply.
Labour MP Anne Clwyd, who has previously led a government review on the NHS’s complaints procedure after her husband Owen died after receiving poor care, alerted Sir Bruce to the high death rates.
She named six hospitals causing concern: University Hospital Wales in Cardiff, Royal Gwent in Newport, Princess of Wales in Bridgend, Royal Glamorgan in Llantrisant and three community hospitals.
The death rates at University Hospital Wales, where Mrs Clwyd’s husband received treatment, are 28 percent above the Welsh average, according to the latest published figures.
The NHS in Wales is under the control the Welsh Assembly, which has been Labour-controlled since its creation in 1999. The Welsh First Minister has previously rejected calls for an examination into the high death rates, calling it unnecessary.
There are already comparisons being drawn with the Mid Staffs scandal, where hundreds of patients died due to poor care. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt accused NHS Wales of not learning lessons from Mid Staffs, describing the situation as a “betrayal of patients”.
A report into Stafford Hospital uncovered years of neglect, with some patients left lying in their own excrement and others so thirsty that they had to drink water from vases.
Charlotte Leslie MP, A Conservative member of the Commons health committee, told the Telegraph, “After all the fatal cover-ups in Mid Staffs, which cost countless lives under Labour, there is still a corner of the NHS where they preside – and yet again we see cover-up and inaction.”