The must read stories from Monday

NHS’s sluggish response to Grenfell

More than 50 NHS trusts have confirmed they have not had a fire service inspection since the Grenfell Tower disaster – despite all providers being ordered to arrange them just days after the fire.

An HSJ investigation has found that many trusts were told their local fire and rescue services were too busy dealing with higher priority cases to inspect all inpatient facilities, as NHS Improvement had asked to happen following the fire on 14 June.

As a result, at least 54 trusts and foundation trusts have still not had fire safety checks, months after the Grenfell fire.

Although trusts whose buildings had cladding like that used on Grenfell Tower have been prioritised for support by NHSI, HSJ has identified several trusts with other types of fire risks that are yet to be fixed.

Of the 172 that replied to our FOI requests, only 95 trusts clearly confirmed that they have had a fire service inspection, while a further five had been partially inspected. Three had no inpatient facilities and would not have been required to comply.

Of the others, 54 providers said they had not been inspected, while others gave unclear answers or refused to release the information.

Trust level information from NHS Digital shows that there were nearly 1,500 fires on NHS premises last year with two fatalities and 35 people injured.

Image wrongs

The rollout of a multimillion pound vanguard project imaging system to University Hospitals Leicester Trust led to a 30,000 backlog in image reports, HSJ has learned.

There are ongoing problems with the East Midlands Radiology system, known as EMRAD, a £30m IT project developed by a consortium of trusts in the region to deliver integrated imaging across hospital sites.

The system, which is an NHS England vanguard, has been widely praised but clinicians using EMRAD have told HSJ that the system has caused widespread problems and frequently breaks down.

Minutes of a meeting of East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group last month revealed that the introduction of the system, provided by GE Healthcare, caused delays and problems with image reporting earlier this year.

The minutes said: “It was noted [UHL] reported that the backlog for plain film reporting doubled following the implementation of the EMRAD functionalities from 15,000 to 30,000.”

This backlog followed the introduction of EMRAD at UHL in September last year and was eliminated in May. However, problems remain with clinicians raising concerns over how the system was working. Senior managers accepted EMRAD was “making work difficult on a day to day basis”, according to an email to staff from UHL chief information officer John Clarke.

The latest trust risk register highlighted ongoing concerns for patient safety. It said: “If system faults attributed to EMRAD are not expediently resolved, we will continue to expose patients to the risk of harm.”