JUNIOR doctors should not be allowed to work alone on night shifts, a coroner has concluded.
Senior Essex coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray made the call following an inquest into the death of a patient at Basildon Hospital, Essex, which happened on August 31, 2012.
The inquest heard that the junior doctors tasked with caring for 57-year-old Lyn O’Reilly had only been in their posts for four weeks. At one point, a single junior doctor was left alone to care for 130 patients on the night shift.
There were accusations of poor medical record keeping, poor communication between nurses and doctors, and of junior doctors’ concerns not being acted upon by consultants. Junior doctors, it was claimed, were given little support day or night time by senior staff.
A post mortem found fluid in Mrs O’Reilly’s abdomen, caused by an abscess which had burst and led to a fatal infection.
Mrs Beasley-Murray recorded a narrative verdict and said: “There were very serious failings in the post-operative care Mrs O’Reilly received at Basildon Hospital.”
Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said a number of changes have been made to the way the hospital is run, including the employment of more nursing staff at weekends and bank holidays. There is also now a longer, five-day induction period for junior staff and improved note taking.