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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Concerns after rise in falls in hospitals

HOSPITAL bosses have acted to reassure the public after it emerged that four patients died following falls in September and October last year.

New figures for the West Cumberland Hospital and the Cumberland Infirmary show there were 12 falls in September 2011 compared to just six in the same period of 2010.

In October, it rose to 17, compared to just three in the same month the previous year.

Outcomes ranged from head injuries and fractures to grazes and minor cuts.

Of those patients, an investigation by BBC Radio Cumbria revealed that four have since died – though it is not yet known if the falls contributed to their deaths. This is likely to be decided by a coroner.

This spike in incidents prompted an investigation by bosses at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Carlisle and Whitehaven hospitals.

However they are now reassuring patients that there is no increased risk. A spokeswoman said: “Overall we have not seen an increase in the number of patients falling and in fact, they are reducing year-on-year.

“However, there was a short period when there were a number of falls which concerned us and as we take patient safety very seriously, decided these needed further investigation.

“It is an unfortunate fact that patients will fall due to their condition and we do everything we can to prevent this and investigate thoroughly when this happens.

She added: “In declaring a serious untoward incident we ensure that a full investigation is undertaken.”

The peak in falls occurred at around the same time senior consultant Guy Broome, chairman of Carlisle hospital’s medical staff committee warned that services were ‘close to breakdown’ due to cuts and staff shortages.

However trust bosses have always insisted that patient safety is their top priority, and would not be compromised to meet cost-saving targets.

The trust does have a dedicated falls team who work across the hospitals to identify risks and educate staff about preventing accidents.

It has also ran awareness events to educate the public, while ward health checks are now carried out at the hospitals every month to alert staff to any safety risks.

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