Hospitals Failing in Care for Children

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Byline: By Emma Brady Health Correspondent

Almost 90 per cent of children's services provided at Midland hospitals have been rated as either 'weak' or 'fair' by the Healthcare Commission.

This is worse than the national figure for low-rated paediatric services, which shows a total of 75 per cent being graded at one or two -'weak' or 'fair' - compared to 88 per cent in the region.

A spokeswoman for the Commission said the statistics prompted "serious concern".

The poorest of the six areas rated by health watchdogs were outpatient services and emergency surgery.

All 17 Midlands hospital trusts assessed by the Healthcare Commission failed to score above two.

Birmingham Children's Hospital and Good Hope Hospital's paediatric services received the highest overall score of three 'good'.

Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals NHS Trust, was deemed the region's lowest performing acute trust and rated as 'weak' overall.

But much of its poor score has been attributed to 'human error' after staff failed to meet the deadline for submissions.

The Commission's review of children's services at 157 acute trusts assessed levels of emergency care, standards for daycase patients, inpatient and outpatient services, as well as emergency surgery and elective surgery.

Each area was graded on sliding scale - one being weak and four being excellent.

Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Staffordshire General and Cannock Chase hospitals, was given achieved a 'fair' rating for emergency surgery but rated 'weak' for its elective procedures.

The remaining four services, where information had not been submitted, were automatically graded as 'weak'.

Yesterday Martin Yeates, the trust's chief executive, admitted these hospital's score was due "to a highly regrettable administrative error."

The Commission first advised hospital trusts it was to carry out a review of children's services in August 2005, and full details of what was required posted in November 2005.

All 157 trusts had eight weeks to meet the mid-January 2006 deadline. Individual trust reports were then published in August 2006. …