The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership

Turning up

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust faces some serious questions about its handling of a patient death and subsequent inquest after a coroner severely criticised trust managers for an apparent breach of their duty of candour rules.

The Care Quality Commission told HSJ it had asked managers at the trust for information about how it had responded to the death of stroke patient Elaine Bradbrook and that it was considering what further regulatory action to take.

Mrs Bradbrook died in April 2017 when staff at the hospital failed to properly monitor her and escalate her case when she deteriorated. An inquest into her death found she was transferred to Nottingham University Hospital by an ambulance crew with no escort, an unprotected airway and having had no review by any doctor. The coroner Heidi Connor said staff knew Mrs Bradbrook was in a deep coma and the ambulance crew would be unable to intubate her if she stopped breathing.

During the inquest the trust sent no staff to support doctors, one of whom booked a holiday and left the inquest early, while another was not involved in Mrs Bradbrook’s care.

The coroner said: “The trust has confirmed (when we asked them) that there has been no internal investigation of these matters. The trust adduced no evidence of either an awareness of the issues arising from this inquest, nor any steps to reduce the risk for similar patients in future.”

She said it was surprising that doctors had not been supported by the trust at the inquest “and that the trust has not investigated the circumstances of this case before now. The trust has a duty of candour, which appears to have been overlooked.”

Court win

The Department of Health and Social Care is poised to finally award a huge logistics contract to Unipart after a high court judge found in its favour following a legal challenge.

The contract, worth up to £730m over five years, was the subject of a dispute between the DHSC and DHL Supply Chain, one of the unsuccessful bidders.

DHL Supply Chain claimed the DHSC had committed “manifest errors” during the procurement process.

The company is the incumbent provider of the logistics service run through the current NHS Supply Chain model, which is due to be replaced this year.

Ms Justice O’Farrell dismissed the claim, which means the DHSC will be able to award the contract if the DHL Supply Chain’s application for appeal is rejected next week.