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Found 33 results
  1. News Article
    Almost half of hospitals have a shortage of specialist stroke consultants, new figures suggest. One charity fears "thousands of lives" will be put at risk unless action is taken, with others facing the threat of a lifelong disability. In 2016, Alison Brown had what is believed to have been at least one minor stroke, but non-specialist doctors at different hospitals repeatedly told her she did not have a serious health condition. One even described it as an ear infection. Ten months later, aged 34, she had a bilateral artery dissection - a common cause of stroke in young people, where a tear in a blood vessel causes a clot that impedes blood supply to the brain. She was admitted to hospital - but again struggled for a diagnosis. A junior doctor found an issue with blood flow to the brain but she says their comments were dismissed and she was told it was a migraine. It was only when she collapsed again, days later, and admitted herself to a hospital with a dedicated stroke ward that a specialist team was able to give her the care she needed. Alison's case highlights the importance of being seen by stroke specialists. However, according to new figures from King's College London's 2018-19 Snapp (Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme) report, 48% of hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have had at least one stroke consultant vacancy for the past 12 months or more. This has risen from 40% in 2016 and 26% in 2014. The Stroke Association charity - which analysed the data - says the UK is "hurtling its way to a major stroke crisis" unless the issue is addressed. Read full story Source: BBC News, 17 January 2020
  2. News Article
    A major NHS hospital is under such pressure that it has decided to discharge people early even though it admits that patients may be harmed and doctors think the policy is unwise. The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS trust has told staff to help it reduce the severe overcrowding it has been facing in recent weeks by discharging patients despite the risks involved. In a memo sent on 8 January, three trust bosses said the Royal Cornwall hospital in Truro, which is also known as Treliske hospital and has the county’s only A&E department, “has been under significant pressure for the last two weeks and it is vital that we are able to see and admit our acutely unwell patients through our emergency department and on to our wards”. The memo added: “One of these mitigations was to look at the level of risk that clinicians are taking when discharging patients from Treliske hospital either to home or to community services, recognising that this may be earlier than some clinicians would like and may cause a level of concern. “It was agreed, however, that this would be a proportionate risk that we as a health community were prepared to take on the understanding that there is a possibility that some of these patients will be readmitted or possibly come to harm.” Read full story Source: 14 January 2020
  3. News Article
    Plans to scrap the four-hour A&E target have sparked a furious backlash from doctors and nurses, with some claiming it is driven by ministers’ desire to avoid negative publicity about patients facing increasingly long delays. A&E consultants led a chorus of medical opposition to the move. They pointedly urged NHS leaders and ministers to concentrate on delivering the long-established maximum waiting time for emergency care rather than finding “ways around” it. Under the target, 95% of people arriving at A&E in England are meant to be treated and then discharged, admitted or transferred within four hours. But performance against the target plunged to a new record low of just 68.6% last month in hospital-based A&E units as a result of staffing problems, the decade-long squeeze on the NHS budget and the dramatic growth in the number of patients seeking care. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), which represents A&E doctors, was responding to Wednesday’s apparent confirmation by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, that the target is set to be axed because it is no longer deemed to be “clinically appropriate”. “So far we’ve seen nothing to indicate that a viable replacement for the four-hour target exists and believe that testing [of alternatives to the target] should soon draw to a close,” said Dr Katherine Henderson, the President of the RCEM. “Rather than focus on ways around the target, we need to get back to the business of delivering on it.” The Emergency Care Association, to which 8,000 A&E nurses belong, said ministers should exercise “extreme caution” in decisions about the target because “it could cause significant detriment to patient safety within our emergency departments if the four-hour target was abolished”. There are fears that patients thought to have only minor ailments could come to harm by having to wait a lot longer than four hours because they also have a more serious condition. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 15 January 2020
  4. News Article
    Hospitals are having to redeploy nurses from wards to look after queues of patients in corridors, in a growing trend that has raised concerns about patient safety. Many hospitals have become so overcrowded that they are being forced to tell nurses to spend part of their shift working as “corridor nurses” to look after patients who are waiting for a bed. The disclosure of the rise in corridor nurses comes days after the NHS in England posted its worst-ever performance figures against the four-hour target for A&E care. They showed that last month almost 100,000 patients waited at least four hours and sometimes up to 12 or more on a trolley while hospital staff found them a bed on the ward appropriate for their condition. “Corridor nursing is happening across the NHS in England and certainly in scores of hospitals. It’s very worrying to see this,” said Dave Smith, the Chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s Emergency Care Association, which represents nurses in A&E units across the UK. "Having to provide care to patients in corridors and on trolleys in overcrowded emergency departments is not just undignified for patients, it’s also often unsafe.” A nurse in south-west England told the Guardian newspaper how nurses feared the redeployments were leaving specialist wards too short of staff, and patients without pain relief and other medication. Some wards were “dangerously understaffed” as a result, she claimed. She said: “Many nurses, including myself, dread going into work in case we’re pulled from our own patients to then care for a number of people in the queue, which is clearly unsafe. We’re being asked to choose between the safety of our patients on the wards and those in the queue." Read full story Source: The Guardian, 12 January 2020
  5. News Article
    Family doctors are under intense pressure and general practice is running on empty, warns the Royal College of GPs (RCGP). It says severe staff shortages are causing "unacceptable" delays for patients in England. In a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, its chairman says ministers must take urgent action to deal with the lack of GPs. The government said it had recruited a "record number" of GP trainees. Ministers are committed to recruiting 6,000 more GPs in England by 2025. Prof Martin Marshall, who took over as RCGP chairman in November, says GPs are struggling with an escalating workload, which is causing many to burn out and leave the profession. Dr Andrew Dharman, who works at the The Avenue surgery in Ealing, said the stress has got worse because of the enormous workload placed on GPs. He said: "Sometimes it feels like you're drowning. You know you're trying to stay afloat and on top of all the workload. And you're trying to make sure you're providing the kind of care that you envisage when you go to medical school." "You feel frustrated sometimes that you can't necessarily do that because of the amount of work and patients." Read full story Source: BBC News, 9 January 2020
  6. News Article
    A health board has cancelled planned operations at four of its hospitals "in the interest of patient safety". Hywel Dda University Health Board made the decision after "an extraordinary weekend" of "critical pressures". On Monday, inpatient operations were cancelled at Bronglais, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals in mid and west Wales. The health board said it had contacted the patients affected and outpatient appointments continued as normal. No decisions have been taken yet to cancel more non-emergency operations on Tuesday, it added. Dr Philip Kloer, the health board's medical director, said the weekend saw hospitals "at a level of escalation not seen before". "It is in the interest of patient safety that we have postponed planned operations today," he added. Plaid Cymru's shadow minister for health, Helen Mary Jones, said the decision to cancel operations was "deeply concerning". She said that patients in Wales "deserve so much better". Read full story Source: BBC News, 6 January 2020
  7. News Article
    Cancer patients are being pushed to “breaking point” because of a lack of support from overstretched nurses and carers, a leading charity has warned. Almost half of specialist cancer nurses have told the Macmillan Cancer Support charity that their high workload was having a negative impact on patient care, while one in five people diagnosed with the disease say the staff responsible for their care have unmanageable demands. Now the charity says this is affecting patients, with thousands calling its specialist support helpline in distress and worried because they feel they can’t get answers from their health workers. Read full story Source: The Independent, 31 December 2019
  8. News Article
    Hospital wards across the country are having to look after an unsafe number of patients, with hundreds of beds closed due to an outbreak of norovirus. NHS England has said that on average almost 900 beds were closed each day during the week to Sunday 15 December. Hospitals have reported fewer empty beds with bed-occupancy rates reaching as high as 95 per cent, 10 per cent higher than the recommended safe level. Read full story Source: The Independent, 20 December 2019
  9. News Article
    Patients are more likely to die on wards staffed by a high number of temporary nurses, a study has found. Researchers say the findings, published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship, are a warning sign that the common practice by many hospitals of relying on agency nurses is not a risk-free option for patients. The University of Southampton study found that risk of death increased by 12 per cent for every day a patient experienced a high level of temporary staffing – defined as 1.5 hours of agency nursing a day per patient. For an average ward, this increased risk could apply when between a third and a half of the staff on each shift are temporary staff, according to Professor Peter Griffiths, one of the study’s authors. He told The Independent: “We know that patients are put at risk of harm when nurse staffing is lower than it should be. “One of the responses to that is to fill the gaps with temporary nursing staff, and that is an absolutely understandable thing to do, but when using a higher number of temporary staff there is an increased risk of harm. “It is not a solution to the problem.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 10 December 2019
  10. News Article
    A hospital in Greater Manchester has declared a "black alert" due to "heightened pressure," the Bolton NHS Foundation Trust has said. The Royal Bolton Hospital triggered the alert on Monday, which is the highest level of escalation in the NHS for measuring demand against capacity. NHS chief Rae Wheatcroft said patient safety remained a "top priority". "We have been busier than we would have expected across the hospital," the deputy chief operating officer added. "We are working hard to ensure that everyone who needs a bed is admitted and treated as quickly as possible." Read full story Source: BBC News, 9 December 2019
  11. News Article
    Half of the unexpected deaths in Belgian hospitals are due to a shortage of nurses, according to a study by the University of Antwerp. Researchers from the University of Antwerp show the link between the number of nurses in hospitals and the death of the patients they care for, based on data from 34,567 patients’ medical records in four Flemish, one Walloon and two Brussels hospitals. The records showed that, on average, three out of every thousand patients in the hospital died ‘unexpectedly’. A death is considered as unexpected when a patient suddenly dies during active treatment, with no care plan for the end of their life having been started. “We know from previous research that part of these unexpected deaths can be avoided, which is always heartbreaking for the family as well as the staff,” said Filip Haegdorens, a researcher at the university. “As a sector, we must do everything we can to prevent this,” he added. The average nurse in Belgium is responsible for 9.7 patients at a time. For 89% of all departments, the number of nurses per hospital department was too low to be able to ensure good quality care. “Compared to, for example, Australian hospitals, where legal minimums exist, our Belgian figures could be improved,” said Haegdorens. The study also shows a link between the training level of nurses and the number of unexpected deaths in the hospital. “In some hospital services, we found that more nurses with a high level of education would reduce the risk of unexpected deaths,” Haegdorens added. Read research paper Read full story Source: The Brussels Times, 4 December 2019
  12. News Article
    The first publication of data from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s 2019-20 Winter Flow Project shows that existing data does not reflect the true scale of the problem of 12 hour stays in A&E. RCEM data shows that in the first week of December over 5,000 patients waited for longer than 12 hours in the Emergency Departments of 50 Trusts and Boards across the UK. The sample of trusts and boards from across the UK is the equivalent to a third of the acute bed base in England. From the beginning of October 2019 over 38,000 patients have waited longer than 12 hours for a bed at the sampled sites across the UK – yet data from NHS England reports that in England alone a total of only 13,025 patients experienced waits over 12 hours since 2011-12. President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said: “In a nine-week period, at only a third of trusts across the UK, we’ve seen nearly three times the number of 12 hour waits than has been officially reported in eight years in England. This must be fixed." Read full story Source: Royal College of Emergency Medicine, 9 December 2019
  13. News Article
    Maternity services at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust were 50 midwives short of what was safe, hospital inspectors have said. A new report by the Care Quality Commission, published today, revealed the trust, which is at the centre of the largest maternity scandal in the history of the NHS, had a 26% vacancy of midwives in April this year. An independent investigation has been examining poor maternity care at the hospital since 2017 and the trust was put into special measures and rated inadequate by the CQC in 2018. Read full story Source: The Independent, 6 December 2019
  14. Content Article
    Working in healthcare has never been so demanding. The demand outweighs capacity in most services. There is a constant need for patients to be ‘flowing’ through the system. So much so, that there is little capacity for deviation from pathways that we have set up for certain groups of patients to enable their care to be ‘safer’. Our staffing templates and bed occupancy has no wiggle room for the ebbs and flows within the system at different times. Winter pressures now span from mid-summer to late spring – it just feels like the status quo. Having a busy day used to be every now and again, it seems that busy days are just the norm now. It is relentless. The huge machine that is ‘the acute Trust’ keeps turning. If you slow up due to covering staff sickness, a swell in emergency department admissions, a swell in ‘failed discharges’ you will tumble around this machine and be spat out at the end of the day with a little less resilience to when you started. There are times when we get sent an email from Comms. "We are experiencing high volumes of admissions and a low number of discharges – this is an internal critical incident". I often read this email a week later. Staff who are doing the clinical work often have no access to a computer at work as the computer is used for looking at clinical results or used by the ward clerk. Plus, when will there be time? An email telling us to work harder and be more efficient by people in their Comms room is as helpful as an ashtray on a moped. At times, us frontline staff feel as if we are being told to ‘work harder, discharge more patients, be quicker, be more efficient and while you are fighting the fire... innovate and give safer care. Innovation is rife within the healthcare system. I see it on a daily basis. Small pockets of great people doing amazing things. How are these people implementing their innovative ideas in an environment where there is little room for a full lunch break? Good will. Often, these people have been driven to innovate in their area due to an unforeseen circumstance. They may have been involved in a safety incident, a never event, bullying or just wanting to make their job easier. Ideas often start small, then grow. What was a seemingly 'simple fix’ has now turned into a beast. A band 5 nurse may introduce a new way of working. They do this alongside their full-time clinical role, often in their own time. They stay late, they come in early, they send emails on their day off, they read up on the theory behind their initiative. Great ideas and solutions are made everyday in our healthcare system by dedicated, passionate people. It is in our nature to ‘fix’ something that is broken: bones, wounds, people… healthcare? Is this pressure cooker of a place producing the ‘right type’ of solution? Or are we just papering over the big issues such as bullying, poor leadership, pay and conditions, management of long-term conditions, staffing… the list goes on. It feels as if we are putting sticking plasters over gaping cracks; it may work for a while, for that ward, that department, that Trust – but it needs to be more robust than that. We can not rely on the goodwill of our front-line clinicians to come up with the solutions.
  15. News Article
    A “critical” shortage of lung specialists may leave the NHS struggling to cope with a spike in hospital admissions related to complications of pneumonia and flu this winter, the British Thoracic Society (BTS) has warned. At its winter meeting this week (taking place 4-6 December), the society presented results from a survey it conducted of almost 250 UK NHS respiratory specialists. Some 83% of respondents (199) thought respiratory healthcare staff shortages would impair the ability of the NHS to cope with the increase in lung disease hospital admissions this winter. Read full story (paywalled) Source: BMJ, 4 December 2019
  16. News Article
    Industrial action by healthcare workers is intensifying as Northern Ireland's nurses take part in 24 hours of action. Health workers are staging industrial action in protest at pay and staffing levels which they claim are "unsafe". In an unprecedented joint statement, the five health trusts said the action was likely to result in "a significant risk to patient safety". Last week, the Royal College of Surgeons warned NI's healthcare system was "at the point of collapse". On Tuesday, members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are refusing to do any work that is not directly related to patient care. Full details and advice on current health care services can be found on the Health and Social Care Board website. Read full story Source: BBC News, 3 December 2019
  17. News Article
    Patients are facing a week of disruption, with more than 10,000 outpatient appointments and surgeries cancelled in Belfast. Some people referred by their GPs on suspicion of cancer could have their diagnosis delayed, the head of the Belfast Trust has said. The trust apologised, blaming industrial action on pay and staffing. Martin Dillon said outpatient cancellations "could potentially lead to a delay in treatment" for cancer. The Department of Health said the serious disruption to services was "extremely distressing". Read full story Source: BBC News, 2 Decmeber 2019
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