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Toxic doctors put patients at risk, says NHS watchdog

Patient safety is being put at risk by the “toxic” behaviour of doctors in the NHS, the health ombudsman has said.

Rob Behrens, who investigates complaints about the NHS in England, warned that the hierarchical and high-handed attitude of clinicians was undermining the quality of care in some hospitals.

He called for medical training to be redesigned to encourage a more empathetic and collaborative approach from doctors.

Pointing to failings in the treatment of sepsis and the problems in maternity services, Behrens said he was “shocked on a daily basis” by what he saw as ombudsman. Too often, “organisational reputation has been put above patient safety”, he told The Times Health Commission.

The ombudsman warned of a “Balkanisation” of health professionals, with rivalries between doctors and nurses or midwives and obstetricians harming patient care. “For all the brilliance of clinicians quite often they’re not very good at working together,” he said. “Time and again, the handover from one clinician to another, from one shift to another, or the inability to raise the issue at a senior level has been a key factor in what has gone wrong.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: The Times, 18 November 2023


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