Continued missed targets, GP and bed shortages, and research advances at risk. It’s been a bad week for the NHS

Yesterday, the NHS released its latest A&E Attendances and Emergency Admissions statistics for December 2019. In many ways, the report made for sorry reading.

Not only have A&E departments nationally once again failed to meet the target of seeing 95 per cent of patients within 4 hours, but the percentage of patients being seen within four hours is now at its lowest-ever level – 79%. In addition, as The Guardian highlights, more patients than ever are having to wait for 30 minutes or more with ambulance crews before they could be handed over to A&E departments.

It should be said that December is typically a very challenging month for A&E departments though. Such things as Mad Friday excesses and flu season, among others, add to the pressures, with December 2019 seeing over 2.1 million attendances at A&E departments. As The Independent’s report on the stats highlights, this represents the highest-ever per day attendance number on record.

However, the year-on-year comparison when considering the stats for December 2018 are worrying. For example, as The Independent also points out, more than 2,000 people waited more than 12 hours for a hospital bed last month. This is a significant rise on the 284 who had similar wait times in December 2018.

Other NHS issues this week

This week hasn’t been a good one for mentions of the NHS in the media; if you were listening to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday morning, you will have heard that The Royal College of GPs have released a report warning a shortage of GPs is leading to “unacceptable” appointment delays for patients in England.

Furthermore, the latest in The Guardian’s Blood, Sweat and Tears series of first-hand accounts from healthcare professionals was published yesterday and features an Intensive Care nurse recounting the occasions when the hospital he works in hasn’t had enough beds or surgical slots for those in urgent need.

Earlier this week, the Academy of Medical Sciences also warned that pressures on the NHS and its staff are putting the chances of future medical advances at risk. This is concerning, as medical research helps to identify new ways to detect and treat conditions.  In turn, if the NHS has more ways to detect and treat conditions, it arguably decreases the chances of medical negligence taking place.

Finally, numerous media outlets, including The Daily Mail, have run the tragic story of Ms. Gabriela Pintilie, who died at The Basildon Hospital last February after losing six litres of blood following a Caesarean section. At the inquest this week, it emerged that doctors refused to allow blood clotting drugs and other blood products to be given to Ms, Pintilie after a “miscommunication” between doctors over the administering of different haemorrhaging protocols during surgery.

Clearly then, the NHS is facing numerous pressures that are affecting its ability to provide front line services to all of those who need to access them. It has to be asked then if the NHS is currently fit for purpose in its current state.

We have previously stated that the NHS is one of the UK’s greatest achievements and one that we should all rightly be very proud of, and we continue to believe this. The responsibility that the NHS carries is far too important for we, the British public, to accept A&E departments continuing to fail to meet waiting time targets, there not being enough hospital beds or surgical slots for those who need them, or increasing waiting times for GP appointments though. It is these pressures, along with all the other pressures the NHS faces, that can lead to the entirely preventable mistake that caused Ms. Pintilie’s death.

The possible solution

Therefore, we strongly encourage the British Government to do everything it can to help all areas of the NHS to be able to meet demand. This could be increased funding, more spaces on GP training courses or its promise during last year’s General Election to recruit and retain 50,000 extra or existing nurses.

Until this happens, we are certain that mistakes will continue to occur and waiting times will continue to go up. In turn, this increases the likelihood of patients suffering as a result of medical negligence.

At The Medical Negligence Experts, we work with legal firms who specialise in failings in emergency and NHS care who have a proven track record in successfully claiming compensation for those who have received inadequate or negligent care.

After your initial consultation with our advisors, during which we will chat through the particular circumstances and advise whether you may have grounds for a claim on a free no-obligation basis, we will match you with the firm who best suits the circumstances. If you then decide to proceed with your case, your solicitor will collect any evidence and contact any witnesses to help build the strongest possible case to support your claim. These witness statements, along with the evidence gathered, will be used not only to prove your entitlement to compensation but also the extent of the physical and emotional suffering that has taken place to ensure the amount of compensation you receive is fair.

If you have any concerns about the standard of medical care you or a family member have received while in NHS care, you may be entitled to compensation. To see if you might have a claim, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8761.