Cases of clinical negligence within the NHS could be on the increase as hospital bosses have admitted that a new patient check-up edict will be “impossible” to fulfil.

A letter from regulators NHS England and NHS Improvement to hospital bosses, sent in early March, has been ridiculed for its insistence that every inpatient should be medically assessed every morning and evening by a senior doctor.

The objective of the plan is to “facilitate discharge” of patients and to cut the number of beds being taken up unnecessarily, but hospital bosses believe that staff shortages make the task unworkable and could lead to mistakes and negligence in other areas.

Staff shortages and new directive could lead to negligence claims

It is a well-known fact that many hospitals are facing staff shortages of up to 25%, and the directive has been branded as “totally ridiculous” by one NHS Trust Chief Executive. In order to fulfil the new check routine it is believed that other services and operations will be affected.

Where there are already too few medics in key positions, it is claimed this new directive will stretch resources further, leading to longer waits for non-urgent procedures. Patients being neglected in such a way can often lead to bigger problems further down the line and leave the NHS open to possible legal action, where errors have been made or where neglect or non-diagnosis has led to complications.

The Trust Chief Executive also referred to existing targets that hospitals are required to meet, such as waiting times, and how these will be adversely affected by an increased absence of clinical workforce.

A further requirement is that hospitals should “boost essential services such as diagnostics and pharmacy at weekends, to maximise non-elective patient flow”. This has been dismissed as “pie in the sky” thinking, and a presumption that hospitals exist in an idealistic situation where they have limitless resources and can do anything they want to improve patient care.

Clinical negligence claim cases on the rise

NHS bosses were reminded that a 25% shortfall in medical staff meant that resources couldn’t consistently deliver all requirements currently demanded of them, and certainly not additional ones. With not enough capacity to deliver optimum care, the knock-on effect is that the NHS is vulnerable to medical negligence claims from patients who have not received the medical treatment the NHS has a duty to provide.

The move adds a further strain on an already struggling nursing system, where standards of care are becoming increasingly hard to maintain and cases of clinical negligence compensation are on the rise.

For expert clinical negligence advice, please speak to James Thompson or a member of his team. Call 0113 284 5000 today.

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