Clinical negligence headlines: 14.05.2018

Here are the main headlines that we’ve seen in the clinical negligence department this week. If you’ve been the victim of clinical negligence, or know someone who has, log on to www.claimtoday.com/negligence or call 08000 93 93 92.

Record number of NHS operations cancelled at last minute

According to a feature in The Guardian, “The number of operations cancelled at the last minute by NHS hospitals in the first quarter of the year was the highest since records began in 1994…”

There were 25,475 such cancellations in the first three months of 2018, equating to 1.3% of all admissions – the highest proportion since 2005.

The statistics also show that 11.6% of patients who had their operation cancelled did not have their treatment rearranged within 28 days – again the highest proportion since 2005.

The Royal College of Surgeons’ vice-president, Ian Eardley, said: “Patients are being forced to wait too long for planned surgery and an unacceptable number have suffered the stress of having their operation cancelled at the last minute. It is very distressing for patients who are often in pain or immobile, and the delay could mean that their condition deteriorates.”

Fall in number of patients able to access own GP regularly

A report published in the British Journal of General Practice shows a sharp fall in the number of patients who are able to access their own GP regularly.

The number of patients in England who said they were able to get an appointment with their family doctor fell by 27.5% between 2012 and 2017, the study found.

The researchers said that the sharp decline in regular contact between patients and their GP, which they call “relationship continuity”, could undermine people’s health. Evidence shows that people who see the same GP when they go to the surgery are more likely to have an ailment diagnosed early, take prescribed medications and access services to prevent ill-health.

Prof Kamila Hawthorne, vice chair of the Royal College of GPs, said “GPs and our teams are rising to the challenge, despite facing resource and workforce pressures, to deliver this – albeit often in a different way than a patient always being able to see ‘their’ GP…”

Younger GPs ‘really don’t like’ working long hours

Still on the topic of GPs, the Telegraph ran a story with the following headline: “Younger GPs ‘really don’t like’ working long hours, says senior medic as pressure piles on surgeries”.

Dr Laurence Buckman, former Chair of the BMA’s General Practitioners’ Committee, said the appetite among young family doctors to “go beyond the extra mile has evaporated” in recent years.

He added “My younger partners can do the extra hours if necessary but they really don’t like it – younger doctors really do not want to work a 14-hour day…Many came into general practice so they wouldn’t have to.”

Dr Buckman said younger GPs’ unwillingness to work the same hours of older colleagues stems partly from a different approach to patient safety, but is also because so many view general practice as an escape from the notoriously long shifts required in hospitals.

The Telegraph notes that the Government has promised to create up to 5,000 extra GPs by 2020 compared to 2015 in a bid to ease pressure, as well as increasing incentives for experienced family doctors to keep practising. This is, of course, something which will be closely watched and reported upon.

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