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Review is bitter pill for trust

THE trust that runs the QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City has been rated "fair" in review of the way medicines are given out to patients.

The review, carried out by the Healthcare Commission across the UK, saw the East and North Herts Hospitals NHS Trust receive below average scores in each of the three categories it was assessed on. Most trusts assessed received a fair or good rating, with only 18 being told their medicine management was "excellent", and 12 given a judgment of "weak".

The review was based on the question of whether individual trusts provide effective medicines management, and trusts were assessed on patient focus, clinical focus and efficiency and capability. East and North Herts, which also runs the Lister and Hertford County hospitals, achieved low marks in several sub-categories.

It scored just one out of five on the completeness of patients' medicines records, and two out of five on informing patients about the medicines they are receiving. It also scored one out of five on managing the prescription of drugs which have an effect on human resistance to infection, and two out of five on the management of controlled drugs within hospitals, which includes the auditing and destruction of drugs.

The trust did do well in some areas, scoring four out of four on the amount of time dedicated to pharmacy staff training, and four out of four on reviewing patients' medication. It scored three out of four on pharmacy staff numbers and four out of four on reviewing patients' medication within 24 hours.

Commission chief executive Anna Walker said: "Our hospitals still have some way to go when it comes to involving patients in decisions about medicine. Trusts need to do more talking to patients about their medicines and their potential side effects. They need to make sure patients feel empowered to discuss any concerns.

"Hospitals also need to do all they can to minimise risks, particularly when giving injections or using intravenous drugs."

Communications manager for the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust Peter Gibson said: "The information was collected this time last year so the picture is roughly about a year old.

"There are areas across the NHS where there is a lot of work to do and it was a bit of a mixed bag for us. As always with these reports it will help us to know the areas where we need to make further improvements."


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