A new report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has found that 64 per cent* of doctors surveyed say they believe patient safety has deteriorated over the last 12 months, up ten per cent on 2017.
Some 93 per cent* said they experienced staff shortages throughout the team, 84 per cent* think the workforce is demoralised, 85 per cent* say demands for their service have increased in the past 12 months, 47 per cent* say care is now of a lower quality than it was a year ago, and 80 per cent* are worried about their ability to deliver safe patient care in the year ahead.
The RCP has now recommended that in order to tackle the crisis funding for health and social care must be matched with growing patient requirements, while investing more in public health initiatives to drive down this need.
It also wants to bring royal colleges, the NHS, trade unions, professions, higher education institutions, thinktanks and regulators together to ensure the health service has both the workforce and resources it needs.
Professor Jane Dacre, RCP President, commented on the findings, saying: “It is extremely worrying and depressing that our doctors have experienced an even worse winter than last year, particularly when so much effort was put into forward planning and cancelling elective procedures to enable us to cope better. We simply cannot go through this again – it is not as if the situation was either new or unexpected.
“As the NHS reaches 70, our patients deserve better – somehow, we need to move faster towards a better resourced, adequately staffed NHS during 2018, or it will happen again.”
Back in February, the RCP and Ms Dacre warned that the NHS has now reached the point of no return after recording its worst performance to date against the four-hour A&E treatment targets.
It was seen that units at hospitals succeeded in treating and admitting, transferring or discharging a record low 77.1 per cent of arrivals in January, compared to the 77.3 per cent in December (which was also a new record low at the time).
Ms Dacre commented that these pressures are being seen on a daily basis and these figures were not surprising to see. It is clear to all those in the NHS that the health service is unsustainable in its current format – unless a big hike in funding is seen. The same level of treatment cannot be provided to “an ever-increasing group of patients” without the system collapsing on itself eventually.
Ms Dacre also wrote an open letter to the Guardian, warning of the safety issues that the ongoing staff shortages are creating in the NHS. She noted that it’s astonishing to see doctors with the appropriate qualifications blocked from working in the UK when the NHS is under the pressure it is.
Because of the gaps in rotas, doctors can’t deliver the standard of care they would usually and as such, patients are now being put at risk.
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*Based upon a survey of 1500 physicians by the Royal College of Physicians' (RCP's)