‘Let’s not get back into this position again’

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WHAT hospital inspectors found when they watched care for the elderly being delivered at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary last October was a wake-up call for NHS Lothian.

No-one who read the findings of the Healthcare Improvement Scotland report could fail to be shocked by some of the failures at the ERI.

But the health board has been quick to react and three months down the line significant changes are already under way, particularly when it comes to caring for patients with dementia.

Today’s warning from Scotland’s public services ombudsman, Jim Martin, is particularly timely.

One of the most disturbing things about reading last October’s report was the powerful echoes of the Jarvie report which identified many similar problems at the hospital just six years before.

It is a serious failure on the part of the health service that lessons learned as recently as 2006 have been so quickly forgotten.

Such institutional amnesia is not unique to NHS Lothian, as Mr Martin himself makes clear. There are many reasons why this might happen – key personnel moving on, staff being distracted by new priorities or performance targets, or simply the effects of staff shortages.

Any or all the above might help explain why this happened, but none of them are good enoough reasons for letting patients down.

The challenge facing NHS Lothian is not simply to put right what has been going wrong on wards, but to ensure that the improvements last.

The job is to make sure that we do not find ourselves in the same position again in another few years. Making sure that patients and their families are always listened to – and their concerns acted upon – has got to be a good start.

Auld cheeky

Who would have thought it? The things that go on behind closed doors in genteel Dublin Street . . .

The New Town street has found itself in the spotlight after being chosen as the location of a new Fifty Shades-style novel. And going by the sales so far, it’s certainly proving to be successful.

It may be unlikely some of the older residents will welcome their street’s new-found fame, but most seem to be taking it in good spirit so far.

And with the follow-up due to be titled Down London Road, they may not be the centre of attention for long. If author Samantha Young continues on this course, will we eventually have Up Piershill or Fifty Shades of Porty?

If it brings in the tourists and gives people another reason to talk about Edinburgh then why not?