Or how else are we supposed to read the two different versions of events presented to us last night (Monday) by NHS England and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust about the outcome of last weekend’s review?
Well, the Leeds statement was pretty much all good news: “delighted”, “now reopening the unit”, “analysis … of data … has concluded there is not a safety problem in Leeds”.
But it didn’t tally with the statement released by NHS England:
It DIDN’T say that the restart of surgery is going to be phased.
It DIDN’T say that the gradual resumption will start with lower-risk cases.
It DIDN’T say that a second stage of the review is now going to be carried out into the handling of patients’ complaints, patients’ case notes and referral practices.
It DIDN’T say that NHS England has asked for significant improvements to the way the unit at Leeds monitors its quality of care.
And it DIDN’T say that the review found that the Trust’s data for monitoring surgical results was “uniquely poor“.
“Duty of candour”
Now the Leeds Trust may have cause to be unhappy about many of those points. And it may well dispute the review findings and/or their interpretation by NHS England, including the need for a second stage of investigations.
But doesn’t it still have a “duty of candour” to patients, their families and the public, to provide them with all the information it can about investigations that have been carried out into the services it delivers.
If a second stage of the review is under way (or not), then shouldn’t Leeds patients, their families and the Leeds public be told?
If NHS England has (or hasn’t) asked for “significant improvements” from the Leeds unit to the way it monitors quality of care, the same goes.
And ditto if the review did (or didn’t) find that the Trust’s data for monitoring surgical results was “uniquely poor”.
It’s been suggested this morning (it would beggar belief) that the Leeds Trust was unaware last night of what was going into the NHS England statement: the contentious bits above, one must presume, referring to the “second stage” of the review, the call for improvements, and the “uniquely poor” data.
If that’s the case, then silence is hardly an option any more.
People will have heard about it all through the media and will be wondering why the Leeds account doesn’t tally.
Why didn’t Keogh say so?
To be fair, NHS England hasn’t covered itself with glory. Its medical director Sir Bruce Keogh admitted on the Today programme this morning that the data he acted on when he suspended surgery at the unit was inaccurate, but added that Leeds “had not submitted good data” to the National Audit used for monitoring the quality of children’s heart surgery.
He will have known that yesterday when the NHS England statement was being written. So why didn’t the statement say so candidly in plain English? Wasn’t that one of the key things that everyone needed to know? Isn’t that what a press statement is for?
It’s a mess.