Displaying items by tag: NHS
The NHS backlog in England has reached a record high, with 7.77 million people waiting for non-emergency care by the end of September. What is more concerning is that about one million people are on multiple waiting lists for treatment, with some on up to five lists. The waiting list is now nearly 3.5 million higher than pre-pandemic levels. The Royal College of Nursing's chief nurse, Prof Nicola Ranger, attributes this to a shortage of nurses, and suggests the Government has lost control of waiting times. Although progress has been made in reducing waits of more than 18 months, ongoing strikes by healthcare workers have disrupted efforts. The strikes have cost the NHS an estimated £1 billion in premium rates and preparations. The Government's rejection of extra funding for strike-related costs has forced the NHS to use existing budgets, including those for IT and maintenance, to address the backlog. This has led to a relaxation of treatment targets, acknowledging the prolonged effort needed to address the backlog.
A study suggests that 95,000 to 167,000 people in England may have contracted Covid-19 in hospitals during the second wave of the pandemic, from June 2020 to March 2021. Researchers from Oxford University analysed data from 145 English NHS acute hospital trusts, considering factors like the availability of single rooms and vaccination of healthcare workers. The study found that 1% to 2% of all hospital admissions during this period led to hospital-acquired infections. The highest infection rates were observed in the north-west regions of England. The research underscores the importance of improving hospital design to limit the transmission of future pathogens and the need for measures to reduce hospital transmissions. Vaccination of healthcare workers was associated with lower infection rates. The findings are significant for protecting vulnerable patients, healthcare workers, and communities.
A family has been allowed to name their late 19-year-old daughter, Sudiksha Thirumalesh, after being denied the opportunity to seek specialist treatment abroad due to restrictive reporting regulations. Sudiksha, who suffered from a rare genetic mitochondrial disease, was engaged in a legal battle with the NHS for over six months to seek experimental treatment that could potentially have saved her life. Although she was fully conscious and able to communicate, a court order prevented her and her family from raising funds to travel to Canada for a clinical trial. Sudiksha's situation gained significant media attention, especially after her tragic death. The family, who are committed Christians, have expressed their distress at the treatment they received from the hospital trust and the courts. They felt silenced, intimidated, and prevented from accessing potential life-saving treatment for Sudiksha. Now they hope to seek justice for her and raise awareness of how critical care decisions are made in the NHS and the courts. There are calls for a more transparent and open system to prevent similar ordeals for other patients and families.
The CEO of a large NHS trust has expressed his concerns about the ongoing industrial action by NHS consultants and junior doctors, comparing the situation to going into a battle with one arm tied behind their backs. The joint action by consultants and junior doctors has led to the cancellation of over 10,000 outpatient appointments, more than 1,000 non-urgent surgeries, and some urgent surgeries. Hospitals have even stopped booking appointments for strike days, exacerbating the disruption to elective care. The industrial action, now in its tenth month, is causing significant challenges for patients and healthcare staff. Trainer highlighted two main issues: patients not receiving the care they need and healthcare staff working in increasingly difficult circumstances, especially in emergency departments. The situation poses significant challenges as the NHS prepares for the winter season.
The British Journal of Surgery (BJS) reported outcomes from a survey regarding experiences of sexual misconduct during surgery carried out by colleagues over the past 5 years in the UK. The authors reported misconduct ranging from sexual harassment to assault and rape which had occurred among colleagues in the surgical workforce. Female surgeons more commonly both witness and are targets of such acts. Moreover, there were indications that among female respondents, trust in various accountable organisations to handle sexual misconduct is low. Needless to say, these results are both distressing and very disappointing. Surgery remains a male-dominated and highly hierarchical speciality where harassment and bullying are prevalent. The most common scenario is when a junior female trainee is abused by a senior male perpetrator. The junior doesn’t report anything as the offender is often their supervisor and their future and career may suffer if they speak up. They also lack confidence that the NHS will take action.
NHS officials have reported that a new Covid mutation was discovered on 18 August, the most concerning variant since Omicron first emerged. Although BA.2.86 is not classified as a variant of concern, scientists say it carries a high number of mutations, and the rollout of flu and COVID-19 vaccines has been brought forward. Vaccinations for care home residents and those who are immunocompromised will now start on 11 September, not in October. This group will be followed by inviting carers, pregnant women, social care personnel, and individuals aged 65 and above to receive booster shots. The NHS vaccinations director said that although flu and Covid hit hardest in December and January, the new variant presents a greater risk, so they want to vaccinate as many people as possible sooner.
Nurse Lucy Letby killed seven babies by force-feeding them with milk or injecting them with air or insulin, and seriously damaged six others who she tried to murder. Dr Stephen Brearey, the lead consultant on the unit where Letby worked, first raised the alarm in October 2015. The first five murders happened between June and October 2015, and - despite months of warnings - the final two were in June 2016. Dr Brearey said senior managerial hospital staff were worried about reputational damage to the organisation. Instead of acting on his warnings, he and his colleagues’ lives were made very difficult. There is ‘no apparent accountability’ for what NHS managers do in trusts. There will now be an inquiry into the magnitude of the event and the questions raised: should NHS managers be regulated in the same way as doctors, and should they be held to account?
NHS staff shortages include nurses, midwives, GPs, hospital doctors and mental health workers. Staff leave because of low pay, stress and reduced job satisfaction. Recruitment and retention is a growing problem in this major staffing crisis. In July the government published a long-term workforce plan. Many are sceptical about whether it will lead to a sufficient increase in staff numbers. If it is successful, there will be 300,000 extra doctors, nurses and health professionals by 2037 by training, retention and reform. Criticisms of the plan include shortening medical degree courses from 5-6 years to four years and the general vagueness around who will train the expansion in medical students. There is also uncertainty over funding after the first five years of the 14-year plan. The total absence of any mention of pay and its importance in retention is the elephant in the room.
Senior doctors accused NHS Grampian of ignoring safety concerns about emergency departments. They spoke out because they felt they could not deliver safe levels of care. Grampian’s two A&E departments have no senior registrars on shift to make key decisions about patients for the majority of weekend night shifts. A number of senior doctors spoke anonymously to the BBC about conditions in these departments. Documents show that medics have been raising concerns since 2021 with NHS Grampian and the Scottish government. They have submitted a formal whistleblowing complaint about the situation as they are witnessing avoidable deaths, ongoing harm with unacceptable delays to the assessment and treatment of patients who may be suffering from serious conditions like stroke or sepsis. NHS Grampian said they recognise emergency departments are under tremendous pressure both there and across Scotland. They worked hard to expand the workforce, but consultant numbers are not yet at full capacity.
Despite recent increased spending on Continuing Healthcare, staff shortages and rising prices mean people with complex medical needs are lacking the help they need. Sometimes family members are so exhausted from providing continual care that they’re concerned over their relative’s safety. Declan is one of the 16,000 people needing Continuing Healthcare. He has severe, progressive muscle wasting and cannot move unassisted. He requires a ventilator to breathe and has chronic heart and respiratory failure. The care he needs to be able to live at his family home should be met by NHS’s Continuing Healthcare scheme that enables people with high complex needs to live outside of the hospital. Declan is entitled to 24/7 support by experienced care workers plus extra help mornings and bedtime. His mother has been asking for care overnight and during her working hours - but repeatedly faces shortfalls in meeting Declan’s needs.