Virgin Care ‘asked staff not to report safety concerns’

Local newspaper the Bristol Post has alleged that VirginCare in the region asked staff not to report their safety concerns to health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (the CQC):

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According to the Post, Virgin Care emailed staff during a period of serious IT troubles that were causing cancelled appointments, missing letters and reports, asking them not to send ‘statutory notifications’ to the CQC:

Virgin Care completely replaced all the IT infrastructure used by services after it took over from Sirona

As such, at the moment I would ask that we hold off from submitting statutory notifications.

As the name suggests, health staff have a legal obligation to report safety concerns to the CQC.

Virgin Care told staff it was itself in communication with the CQC, but staff reported “widespread distrust” about what the company would be disclosing to the watchdog and said that repeated queries to management to find out had received no response.

 

The Bath Chronicle sent eight questions to Virgin Care about the situation – and received just one answer.

We asked Virgin Care for comment on the Bristol Post allegations and received an almost identical response as that sent to the Bath Chronicle. A company spokesperson said:

As was previously reported in the local newspaper, during the local transition of the IT systems there was no interruption to services for patients and, as soon as issues arose, we quickly implemented contingency plans which ensured services continued to operate safely.

Colleagues were supported to deliver safe and effective care while our local and senior teams met regularly to monitor progress and brief our commissioners and the CQC on the issues and what was being done to resolve them; we have shared comprehensive details with the CQC and they have not raised any concerns.

Unlike NHS organisations, private health providers are not subject to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, so statutory reports and whistleblowers may be the only way serious and even life-threatening problems come to light.

The FOI exemption is just one of the areas of serious concern to campaigners for the full re-nationalisation of the NHS – a Labour Party commitment.

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10 responses to “Virgin Care ‘asked staff not to report safety concerns’

  1. Pingback: “Virgin Care ‘asked staff not to report safety concerns’” | The Skwawkbox | COMRADE BOYCIE: VIVA THE ANTI-TORY/BIG BROTHER REVOLUTION!·

  2. Someone I know was getting treatment from Virgin Bath & NES. An appointment letter for a MRI scan never arrived. When she later phoned to find out what was going on, Virgin were on the point of removing her from the assessment/treatment list for non-attendance of an appointment.

    Can’t be 100% sure it wasn’t a postal delivery problem, but as the local paper was reporting as failings in the first 100 days “Patients had appointments cancelled, letters … were not sent out” it seems more likely Virgin’s mistake.

    http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/news/bath-news/catastrophic-issues-affect-patients-staff-221125

    Given Virgin knew they were making mistakes on sending letters out, you’d have thought they would make another attempt to contact before removing people from assessment/treatment lists.

    Unimpressive at the very least, even for a non-critical medical matter.

    • The same thing happened to me: In April last year, a letter arrived from the Royal United Hospital in Bath, informing me that I had missed my appointment for an MRI scan, relating to my breast cancer treatment. No such letter had been received. I was horrified, fearing that my name would be placed on a black list.

      I photo copied the letter and enclosed it with my reply, hand delivered it to my GP surgery, my breast cancer consultant surgeon and the management team at the RUH. I also made sure that the recipients signed my personal copy acknowledging receipt.

  3. Completely agree, FOI on the same basis as applies to public entities is the minimum that should apply to private companies with public contracts.

  4. Sad to say that all of the UKs public services have been stolen from under our very eyes and that the crap replies offered by all ‘our partners’ is all we will ever get unless and until the people declare war on the authorities that have taken over the nation – me thinks its too late and when I hear from phoning my local adult care service that they have to ‘obey’ what they are told I think it’s TOO BLOODY LATE – the fascists have won people

  5. Pingback: Virgin Care ‘asked staff not to report safety concerns’ | The SKWAWKBOX | sdbast·

  6. “Commercial confidentiality” limits companies’ accountability and exposure to legal action.
    Without that – together with benign legislation, the absence of any real competition and the promise of bail-outs – privatisation would never have happened.
    The result is that profits are privatised while losses are nationalised – the worst of all worlds.

    Privatisation in practice has proven the “principles and virtues” claimed for free market neoliberalism to be utterly false, as we saw yet again just a week ago.
    Commercial confidentiality will prevent us from ever learning the full extent of Carillion directors’ mismanagement or the Tories’ lack of foresight and oversight.
    Accepting plaudits for success and denying responsibility for failure is endemic in ToryLand.

    Nationalised organisations are the only way to distribute benefits and costs across a whole population with fairness and transparency.
    In the old nationalised organisations the un-sackability of civil servants was the root cause of inefficiencies.

    We should avoid making that mistake again.

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