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Patient almost bleeds to death at hospital with 'very serious failings'


A patient nearly bled to death in a private hospital that has been severely criticised for putting lives at risk.

The 76-bed BMI Mount Alvernia Hospital in Guildford, Surrey, which charges from £2,500 for a tonsillectomy to £9,900 for a knee replacement,  had “very serious failings” in patient care, the report by the Care Quality Commission said.

The CQC made unannounced inspections of the hospital in December and January after “concerns” were expressed. It posted its report on its website on Wednesday but removed it hours later following protests from the hospital over two issues.  The amended report was published yesterday.

BMI Healthcare is one of the biggest providers of private medical care in the UK with 65 hospitals and four treatment centres. Inspectors found the Mount Alvernia hospital had breached eight out of nine essential standards on consent, care, cleanliness, safety of premises, safety of equipment, staffing, support workers and monitoring provision. It met the standard only on management of medicines.

The patient who nearly bled to death was one of two who had been transferred from the operating theatre, which was out of action due to a fault in its ventilation system, to the minor surgery unit on the floor below. 

When the patient haemorrhaged -  the commonest risk in surgery - there was “inadequate equipment on the unit” and staff “had to run upstairs to fetch items from the main theatres” and  “failed to locate emergency blood supplies”. 

“The failure of hospital staff….could easily have led to a catastrophic outcome,” the report said. Nursing staff had protested at the decision to operate on patients under general anaesthetic in the minor surgery unit, where only surgery under local anaesthetic is normally performed. But they had been over-ruled by the surgeon.

The report said the worst failings were in the care of children, where “staff were untrained and had very little experience.” Managers had been “dismissive of staff concerns and blocked action to improve the situation.”

BMI has voluntarily suspended children’s surgery at the hospital. Stephen Collier, group chief executive, said the failings were “entirely unacceptable.”

“The hospital’s practices let BMI and our patients down and I apologise for that,” he said.