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23.06.16

Khan to question NHS London director over North Middlesex failings

London mayor Sadiq Khan will discuss North Middlesex hospital with London’s NHS director after leaked documents showed that the hospital’s A&E is at risk of closure over safety concerns.

The Guardian reported that internal documents showed the General Medical Council (GMC) and Health Education England (HEE) said they could take the unprecedented step of removing the junior doctors from the A&E, forcing it to shut, unless their safety concerns are addressed by the end of the month.

The documents said that the junior doctors were sometimes being left in charge of the A&E, despite a lack of experience and the fact that only two of them had ever worked in an A&E before. It also said that care in the unit overnight was a risk to patient safety.

In a question time session before the London Assembly, Khan said: “This is a very serious issue which I know the trust itself and its NHS partners both locally and nationally are working hard to resolve. But the fact is that London’s NHS is seriously struggling and this is even worse in north-west London.”

He said that, although his powers over the NHS were limited, he would raise the issue of the hospital in a meeting with Dr Anne Rainsberry, NHS England’s regional director for London.

“Patients in London are facing a very difficult couple of years,” he added.

Pressures on A&E are a concern across the country. Recent figures show that A&E attendances in March 2016 were at the highest ever, and January to March 2016 was the worst quarter ever for the number of patients being seen within four hours.

Staff shortcomings at North Middlesex have been linked to four patient deaths in 2014 and 2015. In one case, staff failed to spot a patient was suffering from cardiac arrest, and in another, they did not give a patient suffering from pneumonia fluids and antibiotics for five hours.

The trust said: “Whilst we deeply regret all these incidents and acknowledge that the care of these patients could have been better, this is a relatively low number of incidents for a hospital of this size.”

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