Alder Hey Children's Hospital safety fears revealed in report

Alder Hey Children's Hospital
Image caption Safety concerns emerged about the hospital operating theatres

A leaked report into safety fears at Liverpool's Alder Hey Children's Hospital has uncovered "safety shortcuts" in operating theatres.

The internal review, passed to Channel 4 News, revealed a "pressurised" staff with a "mistrust of management" feeling they work in a "hostile environment".

It said "urgent action" was needed by the hospital trust.

Chief executive Louise Shepherd has written an open letter stating there were "no incidents of patient harm".

The review, prepared by director of nursing Gill Core, was presented last month.

'Absence of toys'

Her report identified shortcuts to safety processes that have created high risk activity, limited reporting of incidents and "a belief senior management and the board are aware of the working conditions and condone it".

Scrubs suits used in operating theatres were described as "shabby and mismatched."

The report continues: "Some individuals have reported that the working environment is hostile and there are numerous examples of staff feeling pressurised to undertake activities they do not believe are safe."

The units are not welcoming or child-friendly, it states, and there is "a total absence of toys".

The report added: "The perception of mistrust of management and the board is such that there is a widespread feeling of hopelessness that change will ever be achieved.

"It is immediately apparent that responses from theatre staff have centred on a desire to deliver the best possible service and the highest standard of care to patients."

'Increased demand'

But the review also says: "Staff have adopted some high risk practices in order to avoid cancellations; whilst safe outcomes have been maintained, the level of risk is such that urgent action needs to be implemented to avoid an adverse outcome or serious incident."

Following the leaking of the report, the hospital said it was already making changes and was "very proud" of staff.

Ms Shepherd said it had a deep commitment to ensuring "the very best quality of care".

Trust chairman Sir David Henshaw said it was facing "significant challenges which include an increasing demand for services".

"Over the past year we have undertaken a range of measures to address these and make changes within the department."

He said there were now new protocols around staffing, equipment checklists had been strengthened and new scrub suits and toys bought.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) made an unannounced inspection last month after being directly approached by theatre staff. Its report will be published soon.

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