Patient sewn up by torchlight following Scots hospital blunder

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A PATIENT had to be sewn up by torchlight after hapless workers cut the power at a Scots hospital.

Two operating theatres at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary were plunged into darkness when staff from a private firm started scheduled maintenance work too early.

Workers from Consort, the company which runs the hospital, switched off electricity while the theatres were still in use, instead of waiting until surgery was over.

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Two operating theatres were plunged into darkness following the blunder.

Theatre staff were forced to use emergency procedures to keep monitoring systems running, after the back up system failed to start.

They also used torches to keep the patient illuminated while the surgeon completed the operation.

Another patient who was being prepared for surgery had their procedure cancelled following the power cut.

It is the latest in a series of mishaps by Consort.

At the same hospital in December a father had to use the light on his mobile phone to search for his newborn baby in a birthing pool, after the hospital lights failed during the birth.

NHS Lothian said that Consort had “failed” to follow procedure by switching off electricity before the surgery was complete.

Staff will face disciplinary action following the blunder, with Consort being fined.

Dr David Farquharson, medical director for NHS Lothian said the hospital felt  “let down” by Consort.

He said: “The safety of patients is paramount in NHS Lothian and we have systems in place to ensure that power is never lost from any operating theatre.

“Planned maintenance was due to be carried out on the power supply after surgery was complete, but Private Finance Initiative (PFI) provider Consort failed to follow our critical procedures. Disciplinary procedures are now under way.

“Our team of expert staff worked admirably using well-rehearsed business continuity plans to ensure that the patient did not come to any harm.

Penalty

“We feel let down that our patients and staff were put in this position and we have met with Consort, a penalty will be imposed,” he added.

Union leader Tom Waterson, of Unison, said the incident highlighted “concerns” he had about Consort, saying: “It highlights that the PFI consortia put finance first as opposed to putting patients first.

“Again we have seen the risk transfer goes to the patients and not to the private company. It again highlights concerns we have had since the contract was signed that this is a company that cannot be trusted with the health of the people of Edinburgh and the Lothians.”

Consort director Stephen Gordon said the power had been cut for around ten minutes.

He said: “Consort has taken the incident very seriously and have undertaken a thorough investigation into this matter in conjunction with NHS Lothian to review the current operating procedures in place for works of this nature.”

Labour’s health spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, said: “It just defies belief. I think the time has come that we need an independent inquiry into this to ensure this never happens again.”

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