By Sean Gordon, Senior Solicitor, Neil Hudgell Solicitors
With a record number of patients using GP surgeries, independent YouGov polls conducted on behalf of The Sun have revealed that a quarter of patients were forced to wait a minimum of seven days to see their doctor, whilst NHS data analysed by the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) found 372 million were unable to get an appointment at all.
As a result, endless numbers are turning to accident and emergency services for treatment, with figures peaking at 300,000 visits per week – the highest on record. The knock on effect is an unprecedented strain on hospital staff and resources, with A&E units across the country now missing the four-hour waiting time target all year round.
Patients are waiting longer in A&E Departments than at any time for 9 years; new analysis shows. The report from The King’s Fund has indicated that a proportion of patients spend more than four hours in A&E and this has increased by more than a quarter over the last year; reaching its highest level since 2004.
The monitoring report from the King’s Fund showed that in the final quarter of 2012-2013, 5.9% of patients – 313,000 people – waited four hours or longer in A&E, the highest level since 2004.
The Telegraph says the King’s Fund figures reveal that the A&E waiting time target was breached by almost 40% of all trusts during the three month period – an increase of 50% on the previous quarter and the Independent reports that waits before being admitted from A&E into hospital of more than four hours, have also risen to almost 7%, the highest level since 2004.
John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund, told the BBC there was no single explanation for the “spike” in waits, but an ongoing squeeze on the NHS budget was “one of the key reasons”. He said:
The other thing to remember is that these emergency departments are not working in isolation – they work with other parts of the hospital. If you haven’t got the beds for people flowing through then you very quickly back up into A&E.
The Health Minister, Daniel Poulter has claimed that the long waiting times in A&E in the final quarter of 2012-2013 were down to unusual factors such as bad weather and an outbreak of norovirus.
It is unclear whether the Government plan for GPs to resume out of hours responsibility will alleviate the strains on our NHS A&E Departments but until a solution is found, and with continuing budget cuts, our concern is the impact this is having on the standard of care provided within our hospitals. Unsurprisingly Neil Hudgell Solicitors continue to deal with numerous claims against Hospital Trusts following substandard treatment in our A&E Departments. We are concerned that we may see a rise in such claims in light of the recent report from the King’s Fund.
A story published in the Mail on Sunday on Sunday 23rd December 2012 revealed the shocking findings that 63% of foreign medical students failed their exams, compared to the 9% of British students that failed.
Success rates are quoted to be so poor that medical associations want doctors to be allowed 6 attempts at passing the tests rather than the current 4 attempts.
There is a lot of coverage in the press and on the news at the moment surrounding the care of thousands of female patients and the cancer treatment that they may have had unnecessarily. This is a worrying discovery. As the story about the surgeon who allegedly mistreated a number of breast cancer patients emerges, the Daily Telegraph reports on the general position regarding unnecessary surgical procedures taking place every day in the UK.
On 9th November 2012 the Daily Telegraph highlights the fact that many doctors do not tell their patients what possible pitfalls there are to the surgical procedure that patient is consenting for. The trust of the medical profession is such that a patient consents to surgery that is considered best for them by the consultant to whom they are referred. The recent discovery of the breast cancer surgeon has highlighted the fact that the surgeon does not always know best.
The article in the Daily Telegraph suggests that when guidance is given to patients about the surgical procedure that they are about to have, they are not adequately informed of all the possible risks. This includes, when a general anaesthetic is required, the risk of death. The Daily Telegraph uses an example that when men are offered prostate surgery for relief of urinary problems, 40% of them will go on to refuse surgery if they are advised that the operation may cause impotence. You can find a link to the story published in the Daily Telegraph here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9665066/Doctors-not-telling-patients-the-pitfalls-of-surgery.html
An important factor of proceeding with surgery is the patient’s lifestyle and what they considered to be important to that lifestyle. The report quotes Dr Clare Gerada, Chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners. She says that “Shared decision making improves outcomes and reduces the rate of operations….But the problem nowadays is the NHS is so driven by activity that we sometimes forget the patient”.. This leads us to question does the Doctor really know best? We believe that consent for surgery is a vital step in the whole treatment process. A patient has the right to know what possible complications and side affects can stem from the surgery they are about to have. They also have the right to make an informed choice as to whether they want to proceed with that surgery or not. Without knowing all the pitfalls a patient can never make that informed choice.
The medical negligence team at Neil Hudgell Solicitors have experience of cases where the patient believes they suffered complications or adverse consequences as a result of surgical procedures they would never have gone through with, had they known the risks. If you believe that you, a friend, or family member may have received surgery unnecessarily call our helpline on 0808 252 7043 for further advice.
A study published by The National Cancer Intelligence Network reports that almost a third of cancers in the over-70s are only diagnosed when a patient is admitted to hospital as an emergency.
The most frequent cancers in the over-70s to be diagnosed during an emergency admission include 70% of central nervous system cancers (which include brain cancers), 55% of pancreatic cancers and 52% of liver cancers.
The report suggests that for all cancer types, patients were much less likely to be alive a year later if they were diagnosed through emergencies, than if they were diagnosed at an earlier time.
The report highlights not only the need for patients to report any concerning symptoms to their GP, but also the necessity for early recognition by GP’s of symptoms that may indicate a potentially serious condition requiring further investigation.
You can find a link to the full story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19662456
Many people find themselves having had treatment which they are unhappy with and which clinicians either wont or don’t have the time to explain. This can leave patients and their families, quite rightly, aggrieved and perhaps avoidably anxious.
A good starting point, when you are dissatisfied about your treatment is to make a formal written complaint under the NHS Complaints procedure. This can get you answers in a written response or you may be invited (or can ask) to have a meeting with the doctor or dentist involved so that you can have your concerns answered face-to-face.
So you’re ready to complain, where do you start? Follow our easy to use steps and you’re on your way:
- Find the address of the hospital / GP or dentist on NHS choices at www.nhs.uk and address your letter to the chief executive (if it is a hospital), or the practice manager (if it is a GP or dentist).
- The beginning of the letter should say what you are writing to complain about and asking your letter to be dealt with in line with the NHS Complaints procedure.
- Write a brief outline of what has happened to you including dates of when and where you were seen / treated and the name of the doctor / dentist involved.
- Ask specific questions in numbered bullet points.
- Finish the letter by asking that your questions be responded to using the numbers you have used.
- Telephone the hospital / Surgery or dental practice one week after you send the letter to make sure that it has been received and ask for a written acknowledgment.
You can call Neil Hudgell Solicitors free on 0808 252 7043 if you feel your treatment has been negligent and you would like some guidance on how to go about making a complaint and / or a claim for compensation.
Following on from previous posts about dementia care and care for the elderly, it has emerged that approximately three quarters of people suffering from mental illness are not getting the treatment or support they require.
Did you know that mental illness now accounts for almost half of all ill health among people of working age?
Did you know that mental illness has the same impact on life expectancy as smoking?
One in six people are the victims of prescription errors by their GP, with 4% of those errors being classed as severe, a General Medical Council review has announced today (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17911049).
We have all suffered minor illnesses which mean that we have to visit our GP. Usually for infections and the like we are prescribed antibiotics and we then attend the chemist down the road to pick up our prescription. Errors can occur both at the GP surgery and at the pharmacy. Whilst the majority of these errors are minor, being given the wrong dose or wrong drug can have a wide range of consequences, from a few days of nausea and vomiting to severe skin reactions. In some cases, prescription errors can also be fatal.
At Neil Hudgell Solicitors, we deal with prescription and dispensing error claims on a regular basis and can ensure that compensation can be obtained as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Common types of claim include:
- Prescription of incorrect medication
- Prescribing the wrong dose or the wrong frequency of medication
- A failure to note an allergy to certain types of medication, commonly Penicillin
- Being given the wrong patient’s medication whilst in hospital
Don’t suffer in silence. If you believe you’ve being prescribed medication incorrectly by your healthcare professional, speak to our friendly and expert team for free, no obligation advice.
Our medical negligence solicitors can provide free legal advice and advise you on your compensation claim on a no win no fee basis.