Medical Negligence

People in urgent need of care at increased risk of harm due to ‘gridlocked’ healthcare system warns regulator Care Quality Commission

ambulance outside accident and emergency department
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Vince Shore

Joint Head of Clinical Negligence (Hull)

4 min read time
09 Nov 2022

The NHS system is ‘gridlocked’ and people in need of urgent care are at an increased risk of harm says a worrying report by The Care Quality Commission (CQC).

In its recently published annual report for 2021/22, the independent regulator, says long delays in ambulance response times, patients waiting in ambulances outside A&E departments and long waiting times within emergency departments has led to the health and care system “unable to operate effectively”.

The CQC, which exists to ensure health and care services are safe and effective, says a review of services over the last 12 months also found large numbers of people stuck in hospitals longer than they need to be, due to a lack of available social care.

It also concluded that patients’ inability to access primary care services, such as their local GP, is exacerbating the high pressure on urgent and emergency care services and public satisfaction has “plummeted”.

Health care leaders described the system as “in crisis”, says the CQC, and feared that the risk of people coming to harm represents a worrying new status quo leading to worse outcomes.

As an experienced medical negligence solicitor I know that for most patients the treatment they receive is world class but the CQC’s report this year is worrying in its bleak forecast that things could get worse.

The inspections it carried out are a snapshot of what could be happening throughout the country.

Urgent and Emergency Care Inspections

In the face of this emerging crisis, CQC carried out inspections of urgent and emergency care system across the UK and has published its findings for these five areas:

  • Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
  • Gloucestershire
  • Kent and Medway
  • Norfolk and Waveney
  • North East London

Its findings illustrate that a staffing crisis and the inability of departments to communicate with each other are having a profound effect in the above areas of the UK.

Care Quality Commission’s Findings:

People faced long waits and overcrowding – putting them at risk of harm and of deterioration in their condition.

Hospital emergency departments struggled to get patients admitted to the right hospital wards, due to beds not being available.

A huge increase in the number of patients waiting on a trolley in the emergency departments.

Where ambulances cannot hand patients over to emergency departments quickly enough, their staff are having to wait outside and care for patients.

Problems with staffing levels, absences, recruitment and retention were found throughout affecting patient care.

People’s care pathways within and between services were complicated, and communication between providers was sometimes poor. Some people got inappropriate referrals or had additional triage processes – this was resource-intensive and resulted in delays for actual care.

People’s care pathways were not always well understood by everyone involved, increasing the risk of wrong referrals and additional triage.

There were also delays in people’s access to services because of a lack of collaboration and poor communication.

Some people got inappropriate referrals and resulted in delays for actual care.

Sometimes mistakes were made where services were not working well together, but there was no learning because the providers were not sharing information.

Packed emergency departments

Across England the CQC report found that only 2 in 5 people are able to leave hospital when they are ready to do so, contributing to record-breaking waits in emergency departments.

NHS England data shows an increase of nearly 7 million people attending A&E in 2021/22 and 5 million waited more than four hours in A&E, compared with just over 3.5 million in 2019/20.

Across 2021/22, the estimated number of people waiting more than 12 hours to be admitted to a ward “increased massively”.

Hospital Negligence Claims

At Hudgell Solicitors we understand the devastating impact medical negligence can have on people’s lives.  Medical negligence can happen if you are misdiagnosed, receive the wrong treatment, or a mistake is made during surgery or treatment.

Medical negligence can also occur if you receive substandard treatment by a medical professional, whether that’s directly causing an injury, or making an injury or condition worse.

We believe everyone has the right to the good standard of care when visiting a hospital.

Our experienced hospital negligence lawyers hold hospital trusts to account for failings in patient care, securing maximum compensation for those that are let down by their healthcare practitioner when receiving treatment for illness or injury in hospital.

If you’ve been the victim of hospital negligence or have seen a loved one suffer and wish to make an NHS negligence claim, our expert hospital negligence lawyers are here for you. For a free consultation about your claim, get in touch today.

Read more: Medical and Clinical Negligence Compensation Claims


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People in urgent need of care at increased risk of harm due to ‘gridlocked’ healthcare system warns regulator Care Quality Commission

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