Hospital A&E wards in crisis over shortage of emergency doctors.
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We have been aware that the NHS is in 'crisis' for some time and this kind of description in the media may have reduced the impact over time of the very real funding issues in the NHS. The recent news that funding issues have reached such a level that 24-hour A&E care is now in jeopardy is more than concerning.
Over the past few months, we have heard of patients left on trollies or in holding bay jumbulances. This has become a norm in many accident and emergency departments. However, there was never any doubt that patients would be attended to at some point.
The concern is that there are not enough doctors to see patients who attend A&E 24 hours a day, for various reasons including funding, but many trainee doctors are choosing to leave the NHS completely or to work abroad where the work conditions are better. The latter problem appears difficult to resolve as steps have been taken to recruit doctors who have the expertise to work in A&E.
This situation is very concerning and is likely to result in more clinical negligence claims. If a patient has an emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke, and their local A&E is closed - will they be able to get to another unit in time to save their life or prevent permanent disability? What will a parent do with a seriously ill child? The outcome of such closures could result in significantly increased costs for the NHS in ongoing care for those affected adversely and an increase in justifiable clinical negligence claims.
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