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Despite being dubbed “magic Morecambe Bay” by commentator Roy Lilley, huge concerns over patient safety keep exploding out of its hospital trust.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay has been desperate to move on from the awful maternity scandal that dominated national news headlines in 2015.

But in 2019, major investigations had to be launched into whistleblowing concerns within the urology services (these are still ongoing), and, HSJ has now revealed, into trauma and orthopaedics.

Documents obtained via a freedom of information request reveal several T&O patients were harmed after senior leaders at the trust failed to act on multiple concerns being raised about a surgeon.

They reveal a catalogue of governance and safety concerns, with an external review describing the process for investigating clinical incidents as akin to “marking your own homework” and finding the service riven by “internecine squabbles”.

The urology investigations are likely to conclude next year, and could well be even more explosive. The trust faces a mammoth task to reassure patients it’s a safe place to receive treatment, and for staff to raise concerns.

Banking on success

There has been a proliferation of shared staff banks in the last two years, including a couple in London and another spanning eight trusts in the south.

A new collaborative in the North West region, for junior doctor shifts, which is set to span 18 organisations by the end of the winter, will be a major addition to these.

The North West Doctors in Training Collaborative Staff Bank, led by St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust, will act as a secondary bank for participating hospitals, allowing them to broadcast shifts they have been unable to fill through their internal bank.

This is expected to help reduce spending on external locum agencies and minimise the administrative burden of using temporary staff.

As the current lead employer, STHK already holds the contracts for around 5,500 doctors in training across the region, streamlining multiple functions such as payroll, reporting, governance and disciplinary processes.

This means trusts can access the new bank directly without the need to establish their own operations to manage it, while junior doctors who pick up additional shifts can receive their pay via their normal payroll service, cutting out the typical bureaucracy of working with different organisations.