A patient safety charity has alleged that around three quarters of NHS trusts have failed to comply with at least one patient safety alert issued by the National Patient Safety Agency.
In a report compiled from Freedom of Information Act requests, Action against Medical Accidents also showed that 80 NHS trusts have not complied with 10 or more alerts, 35 of which were foundation trusts.
One trust, University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, had not complied with 70% (37) of the alerts and two others – Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust and Greenwich Teaching PCT – failed to comply with 58% (31) by the end of December 2009.
Eighty one hospitals had failed to confirm that they had acted on an alert covering painkilling medicines and 25 trusts had not confirmed compliance with an NPSA notice designed to reduce the risk of patients falling out of bed.
The NPSA’s director of patient safety, Dr Suzette Woodward, said: “We acknowledge the main findings within AvMA’s report.
“Delivering high quality and safe services to patients is the top priority of the NHS and the NPSA. It is vital therefore that all NHS organisations comply with these alerts to ensure the highest levels of safety for all their patients.”
In November, E-Health Insider showed that around 70% of trusts had not implemented standarised patient wristbands under an alert that required them to print demographic details on wristbands by July 2009.
The alert said that over a one year period, more than 24,382 patients received the wrong care and at least 2,900 of these related to poorly written wristbands and their use.
AvMa pointed out that trusts are supposed to report to the Central Alert System when they have completed the actions recommended in an alert, but there is no system for monitoring compliance. Its chief executive, Peter Walsh, said this was "complacent."
Unison, the UK’s largest public sector union, responded to the report by calling for the foundation trust regulator, Monitor, to do more about breaches of patient safety.
Karen Jennings, head of health for Unison, said: “The National Patient Safety Agency issue these alerts for very good reasons and it is clear more needs to be done to monitor trust compliance and restore public confidence. The move to more ‘light touch’ regulation isn’t appropriate in the NHS.”