Salisbury nerve agent attack: Hospital praised for response to novichok poisoning

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By Paul Keslso, health corespondent at Sky News

The Care Quality Commission has rated the hospital as “outstanding” following the nerve agent incident almost a year ago.

Salisbury Hospital has been praised by regulators for its response to the novichok nerve agent attack that killed one woman and left four others requiring critical care.

The Care Quality Commission has rated the hospital trust’s critical care services “outstanding” and the hospital as “good” overall in an inspection report published three days before the first anniversary of the attacks.

The hospital was at the heart of the response to the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer who served as British double agent, and his daughter Yulia on 4 March last year.

The attack left Mr Skripal and his daughter in a critical condition, along with Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, a policeman who responded to reports that the pair had been poisoned in the centre of Salisbury.

In June, Salisbury residents Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley were poisoned after coming into contact with a perfume bottle containing novichok, and Ms Sturgess subsequently died.

All five remained at Salisbury Hospital throughout their treatment despite the extremely rare nature of the attacks, which in Mr Skripal’s case took more than eight weeks.

In March 2018, the hospital’s emergency department had been responsible for the immediate assessment and treatment of five patients who presented critically unwell with nerve agent poisoning. These admissions were categorised as major incidents.

The inspectors said: “The team’s response to these major incidents was outstanding in terms of their commitment to provide effective and responsive care, their collaborative working and their focus on the safety and well-being of all staff and patients in the emergency department during this time.

“There was no precedent for treatment of nerve agent poisoning. Four of the five patients survived. Despite the novelty and complexity of these cases, the department managed to provide excellent care for these patients without any noticeable impact on their everyday workflow.’

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust CEO, Cara Charles-Barks, said: “The Care Quality Commission’s report is a ringing endorsement of the hard work of our staff to deliver outstanding care every time.

“I want to thank all Salisbury Hospital’s staff for their continued dedication, compassion and professionalism.

“All four services reviewed had made significant improvements but I am particularly delighted that our critical care unit has been declared ‘outstanding.

“While the spotlight of the world focused on us this time last year because of nerve agent poisoning, every day and night hundreds of people come to this hospital needing our care.”

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