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Delays in treatment have put thousands of patients at risk of clinical harm, says Rt. Hon Joan Ryan MP

Joan Ryan MP is calling for greater accountability and transparency for the thousands of patients in Enfield and surrounding boroughs who suffered Referral to Treatment (RTT) delays and were put at risk of clinical harm, as a result of IT problems at the former Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust.

In 2013-2014 the Trust suffered serious IT issues which resulted in thousands of patients going missing from their computer system who had been referred by their GP to the Trust for treatment.  When the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust acquired Barnet and Chase Farm Trust in the summer of 2014 they took over the responsibility for dealing with the problem and identifying the patients concerned.

Figures that have recently come to light show that as of May 2015, 10,454 patients have undergone a clinical harm review process. Whilst 6,000 of which were categorised as not at risk, around 4,000 were deemed to be at low risk of harm, 77 patients at moderate risk and 1 patient at severe risk, due to the delays in their treatment.

Whilst acknowledging the work the Royal Free has done to deal with this matter, Joan Ryan has written to the Chief Executive, David Sloman, to express her serious concerns at the situation. She has urged him to ensure measures are put in place so that similar problems cannot occur again and that patients are informed of the reasons why their treatment was delayed – so far only those put at risk of clinical harm have received letters of apology.

In light of the circumstances, she has also called on the Trust to publish site specific information for Barnet Hospital, Chase Farm Hospital and the Royal Free London Hospital so that it is easier to monitor the progress being made by each hospital to deal with the rest of the backlog. Currently the data available is published for the Trust as a whole.

Rt. Hon Joan Ryan MP, Labour’s Member of Parliament for Enfield North, said:

“This is a really important issue that has had implications for thousands of people in Enfield and elsewhere, particularly for those put at risk of clinical harm due to delays in their treatment.

All those affected deserve an apology and to know what happened and why.

Foundation Trusts, hospitals and the NHS as a whole are run with public money and should operate with complete accountability and transparency, especially when things go wrong.

I will continue to monitor this situation very closely.” 

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