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A recent report by the Care Quality Commission has highlighted the disparities in care provided across the country, raising concerns for the potential of mounting medical negligence claims.
The report which covers a range of NHS medical services from GP practices through to A&E waiting times has highlighted that in many instances the public is facing increased waiting times, delays at A&E and record levels of dissatisfaction at GP surgeries. The report also refers to overcrowding in wards, a lack of out of hours GP care, an increase in preventable admissions to hospitals and growing waiting lists for routine operations.
In addition to the above, the report highlights significant differences in the level of care provided across the country, raising concerns that treatment is becoming a postcode lottery. Four areas of the country were highlighted where access to good hospital care and social care is difficult. This could have the impact that patient wellbeing is directly affected and may lead to an increase in patients pursuing a late diagnosis claim should they have had to wait before a diagnosis is given.
In particular, in Kent there are seven local hospitals that are currently rated by the CQC as requires improvement while one in three nursing homes are failing compared to the national average. The poor level of medical care is likely to put a further strain on other medical services as patients may be more likely to attend their GP surgeries instead of receiving medical care in their nursing home. It is a similar situation in the Isle of Wight where the only hospital is rated as inadequate and a third of nursing homes are failing. This is a particular concern given that there is an older demographic in this area.
Mental health provisions were also highlighted as an area of concern with the CQC highlighting that in some areas patients have to travel significant distances to receive sufficient care, both on an outpatient and inpatient basis. As well as having a detrimental impact on patient wellbeing it is thought that care is becoming more fragmented as different medical teams such as social workers and mental health practioners are unable to communicate effectively. This can be that patients are having to explain their situation multiple times, or that important information is omitted. Where this has negatively impacted patient outcomes it may be possible to pursue a mental health claim for compensation.
The CQC state that:
“the safety of people who use health and social care services remains our biggest concern: 40% of NHS acute hospitals’ core services and 37% of NHS mental health trusts’ core services were rated as requir[ing] improvement on safety at the end of July 2018.”
The release of the report comes ahead of the winter period, whereby hospitals have typically struggled to cope with increased pressure on the various departments, including A&E. The growing pressure on the various services may lead to an increase in hospital negligence claims as a result.