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‘No supervision’ at dialysis unit revealed after patient tip-off

13 November, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Patient William Tackie at the St Pancras Hospital ‘self-care’ unit when it first opened in March 2015

INSPECTORS have raised concerns about Camden’s flagship “self-care” dialysis unit following an anonymous tip-off that patients had been left without supervision.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has produced a report about the Mary Rankin Dialysis Unit at St Pancras Hospital, in Pancras Way, which is run by the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust. The unit, set up in March 2015, aimed to ­liberate kidney disease patients by training them for “self-care” at the NHS unit – but expert staff were always supposed to be on-site.

Professor Edward Baker, the country’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “We undertook an unannounced, focused inspection of the supported self-care unit in the Mary Rankin Dialysis Unit. The inspection was conducted because the CQC had received anonymous information that patients were being left without proper supervision by qualified nursing staff. During our inspection we found that patients had been left for short periods of time, up to an hour during staff breaks, leaving only one nurse or healthcare assistant on the ward. There was no evidence that patients had been harmed prior to our inspection, but there was an unnecessary risk at these times.”

The “self-care unit” – used by 72 patients with advanced chronic kidney disease – opened in March 2015. It was set up to give kidney patients more flexibility and independence in their dialysis care. Dialysis is a form of treatment for patients who suffer kidney failure as a result of kidney disease.

The idea was to reduce reliance on nurses and to cut the amount of time patients spend on the machines.

After the visit, the Royal Free “took immediate remedial action to ensure that at all times there are two clinical staff including a nurse looking after patients”. The report said that staff were informed about their roles and responsibilities, safeguarding, pain and nutrition, and equipment was properly maintained. They had the “skills, knowledge and experience to ensure safe patient care”. The service received no formal written complaints in the 12 months prior to the inspection.

The CQC inspection was raised in this month’s board meeting where Royal Free chief executive said that a list of recommendations “would be implemented”.

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