Doctors at Baby P hospital faced ‘excessive workloads’

Doctors at the hospital where Baby Peter was seen two days before he died were struggling with excessive workloads, management difficulties and budget cuts at the time, according to NHS London.

An independent report has been published on behalf of NHS London in response to complaints from Dr Kim Holt, who claimed Peter Connelly could have been saved if the hospital had listened to her concerns in 2006.

Holt, a consultant paediatrician at St Ann’s Hospital, lodged concerns, along with three colleagues, about the hospital’s child development clinic. The clinic, whose doctors are employed by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Trust, is run by Haringey Council.

Poor communication

There were concerns about excessive workloads due to budget cuts and poor communication between management and staff. Holt also claimed to be targeted and bullied by management after her whistleblowing.

NHS London investigated some of the issues raised by Holt, although not those relating specifically to the baby P case which, it said, had been dealt with through other inquiries. The report, published today, acknowledged that problems with individual consultant workload in 2006-7 were “significant and exacerbated by sickness and also by the recruitment difficulties which continue”.

It also said that relations between management and clinical staff were poor, due to factors such as the isolation of the consultant team, high demands of the Haringey population and acute financial pressures on the service and consequent excessive workloads.

Inadequate training

Training was another issue highlighted by the report, which said evidence suggested that training, supervision and support provided to trainee doctors between September 2006 and May 2007 was inadequate.

However, the report said the hospital was dealing with some of Holt’s concerns, such as the implementation of weekly clinics for child protection follow-ups. However, these clinics remained an area for further improvement as were poor IT systems and late follow-ups. The report found no evidence that Holt had been bullied.

Holt is expected to return to work after a period of absence.

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