HOSPITALS in Worcestershire have reported more than 1,000 falls among their patients so far this financial year.

There have been 1,324 falls across Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester, the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and Kidderminster Hospital since April (the financial year 2012/13). Last year’s total figure was 1,920 falls. This financial year, 29 falls resulted in ‘serious harm’ to a patient compared with 44 last year. An example of serious harm could be a broken hip or a head injury. Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has introduced ‘intensive training’ of staff to try and reduce the number of falls.

Meanwhile, the trust is trying to eliminate all ‘hospital-acquired’ and ‘avoidable’ pressure ulcers (bed sores) of grade two, three and four. Pressure ulcers are graded according to their severity. Grade one is redness to the skin and grade four where the bone or tendon is exposed. Pressure ulcers can be prevented by NHS staff turning patients regularly and using specialist bedding. NHS bosses only count pressure ulcers a patient developed while in hospital, not ones the patient already had when they were admitted. Two patients developed one of these ulcers at grade two and one at grade three/four at Worcestershire acute hospitals, taking the total number to 33 for the year so far of which 24 were at grade three or four. Trusts faced £500 fines for grade three or four pressure ulcers as part of a national drive to improve care standards.

Helen Blanchard, director of nursing, said at a trust board meeting the trust was part of moves to reduce pressure ulcers not only in hospitals but in care homes, sheltered accommodation and in people’s own homes.

The trust has received 493 complaints so far in 2012/13 which is below last year’s total of 706. The highest number of complaints was reported in May last year (67 complaints) and the lowest was December (33 complaints). Hospital staff are supposed to respond to complaints within 25 days of it being received. At Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Worcester, 91 per cent of complaints were responded to within the deadline. At the Alexandra Hospital, Redditch the figure was 63 per cent which hospital bosses blamed on the sickness of investigating officers in a report delivered by deputy chief executive Chris Tidman at the Redditch meeting. This financial year, there have been 852 compliments, meaning the trust receives nearly twice as many compliments as complaints.