HSJ’s roundup of Friday’s key stories and talking points

A family’s ‘nightmare’

The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman has refused to investigate the death of a baby at the centre of claims of a “regulatory gap” between national bodies preventing them looking into historic complaints.

The controversy comes after NHS England pulled out of a joint inquiry with the Care Quality Commission into the death of baby Elizabeth Dixon, who died in 2001.

Her parents told HSJ their experience of the complaints process with the PHSO had been a nine month “nightmare”, with the Ombudsman eventually accepting it was incapable of investigating all aspects of the case.

Anne and Graeme Dixon said: “If the Ombudsman won’t investigate the death of our daughter, the CQC doesn’t have the powers and NHS England has refused, the question has to be who will?”

Elizabeth, who was born prematurely at Frimley Park Hospital in 2000, was left with permanent brain damage after hospital staff failed to monitor or treat her high blood pressure over 15 days. She suffocated to death almost a year later when a newly qualified nurse failed to keep her breathing tube clear. The cause of her brain damage was only confirmed in 2013.

A PHSO spokeswoman said it would not comment on individual cases, but did say: “We have investigated several historic complaints about serious health cases, but regretfully there are times when we are unable to investigate a complaint because, for example, it’s about an organisation that’s not within our jurisdiction or we are unable to agree with the complainant what we can investigate.”

Providers bid to block CQC reports

Two providers of adult social care have applied for injunctions to prevent the publication of CQC inspection reports, HSJ revealed.

The watchdog had to apologise to one of the providers after it mistakenly published online the summary of a report, which was prohibited by a High Court order.

The two providers that applied for injunctions were Able Community Care and Helen McArdle Care, though the latter’s application was unsuccessful.

No NHS providers have tried to get their inspection reports blocked, however.

Kingston isn’t shaking in its boots

Kingston Hospital Foundation Trust has defied a government pay agreement and awarded its senior staff a 1 per cent pay rise, in line with lower paid staff.

The outer London FT’s leadership team took the decision to award the pay rises because of concerns over keeping hold of staff tempted to leave for higher wages in inner London.

In January, the government agreed to a 1 per cent pay rise for all staff up to the mid-point of band 8C on the Agenda for Change pay framework. This would apply to staff on a salary below £57,069.

Kingston Hospital is the first trust to confirm it has gone against the government’s pay deal and give a rise to staff earning more than this, though Managers in Partnership chief Jon Restell said: “We have heard anecdotally of others doing the same.”

The trust’s stance has been applauded by hsj.co.uk readers. One said: “The trust is showing leadership to maintain the business.”

Another writes: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see more NHS boards telling the government ‘how it is’, rather than shaking in their boots in the shadows.”