Jeremy Hunt criticises children’s hospital over ‘cover up’ case

Shaun Lintern
·2 min read
<p>Ex-health secretary believes more needs to be done to tackle a ‘blame culture'</p> (PA)

Ex-health secretary believes more needs to be done to tackle a ‘blame culture'


Former health secretary and chair of the Commons health committee Jeremy Hunt has criticised Great Ormond Street Hospital after it was accused of covering up errors that may have led to the death of a toddler.

Writing for The Independent, Mr Hunt, who has set up a patient safety charity since leaving government, said it was “depressing” to see how the hospital had responded to the case of Jasmine Hughes, which has now been taken to the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman for a new investigation.

Mr Hunt said the hospital had chosen to issue a “classic non-apology apology of which any politician would be proud” and added he was left angry over the hospital’s “ridiculous decision” to stop talking to Jasmine’s family and the refusal to apologise for what went wrong.

The MP for South West Surrey said the case was symbolic of a wider problem in the health service of a blame culture that prevents openness and transparency around mistakes.

He said: “Patients and their families tell me time and again that they understand how mistakes can happen. But what they don’t understand is how difficult it can be to get a doctor, a hospital or a trust to say something as simple as, ‘I’m sorry, we made a mistake, we will do everything we can to make sure we don’t make it again’.

“But the truth is that until we move from a culture that seeks to blame an individual when something goes wrong to one that seeks to learn from these errors so that the system as a whole avoids repeating them we won’t see clinicians being as open as they’d like. And we’ll never see real progress in reducing the amount of avoidable harm healthcare causes.”

The Independent revealed last week how crucial information about Jasmine Hughes’ treatment was not provided to the coroner in her inquest in 2012 and how new computer records had revealed how her blood pressure was mismanaged at Great Ormond Street, according to expert Malcolm Coulthard.

Vital records and notes by doctors and nurses at Great Ormond Street have gone missing and records of Jasmine’s treatment by intensive care doctors are completely missing from her medical records.

Great Ormond Street Hospital has denied any wrongdoing but has admitted information about Jasmine was not shared with the coroner and accepted there had been “inconsistencies” in information.

The trust has been rated among the worst NHS trusts in the country for its safety culture three years in a row.

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