A REPORT into patient safety has slammed three health trusts in the area.

Greenwich Teaching Primary Care Trust (PCT), Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust and Lewisham PCT were named as the second, third and fourth worst in England in terms of reacting to patient safety alerts.

The Government body, National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA), assigns alerts to trusts when it feels urgent action is needed to prevent death or serious injury to patients.

A freedom of information request by the charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) found all three trusts completed less than 50 per cent of the 53 alerts issued by the NPSA with deadlines which passed between January 2004 and December 2009.

The charity's report, Adding Insult to Injury – NHS failure to implement patient safety alerts, showed failed alerts at Lewisham PCT included "reducing the risk of harm from oral bowel cleansing solutions" and "protecting patients who are neck breathers".

Meanwhile staff at Greenwich Teaching PCT and Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust "failed to meet recommendations which included protecting patients with an allergy associated with latex".

Chief executive of AvMA, Peter Walsh, said: “The fact so many NHS bodies are failing to comply with potentially life saving alerts from the NPSA is shocking.

"It is putting lives at unnecessary risk and adds insult to injury for patients who have been harmed or lost loved ones as a result of NHS lapses in safety.

"We all know mistakes can happen, but there can be no excuse for not acting on patient safety alerts."

He added: "It is also incredibly worrying that there is no system in place to monitor compliance with these alerts and to intervene where necessary."

A spokesman for Greenwich Teaching PCT said: "We acknowledge that historically our administrative systems did not manage these processes as fully as is required.

"However, we are confident that we will be fully compliant by March 2010."

A spokesman for Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust said: "Our Trust does not sign off the alert as complete until all components are fully investigated and assurance has been given that any relevant changes to practice or equipment have been made.

"This demonstrates a high level of attention to patient safety issues internally.

"However, we acknowledge that the hospital has fallen behind on reporting our compliance to the national database."

Lewisham PCT said: "We have reviewed our outstanding response status on the CAS website and found that our reporting had not kept pace with the evidence based reviews that had been undertaken.

"We have now updated our responses to reflect our actual position and can confirm that of the 28 alerts that were marked as outstanding, 25 of them are fully completed or do not require any actions.

"The three that remain are subject to ongoing work plans which have a target completion date of the end of this financial year."

News Shopper has so far been unable to obtain a response from Lewisham PCT.

To see the report in full, visit avma.org.uk