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A watchdog has revealed that those working in children’s services at Birmingham Community NHS Trust have more than six times the recommended workload, raising concerns about the potential for medical negligence.
Birmingham Community NHS Trust provides care to adults and children including those with learning disabilities. It provides care for a population of more than 1 million people living across certain areas of Birmingham including Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall. It is currently rated as requires improvement by the CQC. As well as providing care in the community and in people’s homes, the trust also operates a number of sites across the region.
The watchdog found that some practitioners in the trust had up to 600 cases each, despite a guide limit of only 100. This raises concerns about the level of care being provided to each individual in these circumstances and may lead to an increase in patients pursuing a hospital negligence claim should their health have been adversely impacted due to negligence. In addition, an investigation earlier in the year established that health visitors within the children’s services department had between 370 and 500 patients each despite national guidelines recommending a limit of 250.
Concerns had previously been raised about Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust relating to health visiting services and whether vulnerable patients were at risk because health visitors were unable to spend sufficient time with them in order to identify potential victims of domestic abuse or postnatal depression. In these instances additional support may be needed to provide the level of care required and the current situation places the trust at an increased risk of a delayed diagnosis claim from those who may not have received the treatment or care that they needed in order to provide a speedy recovery.
Commenting on the caseloads of health visiting services, Unite regional officer Su Lowe said: “the deteriorating situation impacts negatively on the services they can provide to families and young children.. we are unto unsafe practice territory where serious issues such as postnatal depression and domestic abuse could be missed because of the current lack of resources.”
It is understood that a number of steps are being put into place in order to help reduce the workload of those with too many cases. This should help to ensure that a higher level of care is provided and reduce the potential for misdiagnosis claims as well as ensuring those with particular needs are afforded the time to ensure appropriate treatment is provided. However, questions have been raised as to how the caseloads can be reduced in the immediate future without hiring additional staff and the impact on those who have slipped through the net for whom it may be too little too late.