I'm Still Waiting: The NHS Off-Target Again

18th January 2016 Clinical Negligence

"More haste, less speed," so the saying goes.

However, when people's well-being is at stake, a quick response can literally be the difference between life and death.

It is of little concern, therefore, that new figures from the National Health Service (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35303317) reveal that many hospitals across England are missing a range of waiting time targets.

Ambulance, Accident and Emergency departments, patient phone lines, cancer testing and other services all fell short of their required marks during November.

The NHS has claimed that the data needs to be viewed in the context of "particularly large increases" in patients requiring treatment, diagnoses and advice.

That will, however, come as little comfort to those awaiting discharge from hospital, who experienced a total of more than 135,000 days of delays - the second highest on record - during the month in focus.

In addition, just over 91 per cent of patients attending A&E were seen within four hours of their arrival. That was the worst November showing since record-keeping began in 2010.

If that's not bad enough, one health think-tank, the Nuffield Trust, has reminded us that November is not normally the most busy winter month for the NHS. During a mild winter, up to now, the picture created by the NHS is ominous.

Throughout all the matters handled by JMW's Clinical Negligence department - a caseload involving incidents from across the entire country - it is clear that delays can have grave consequences.

Delays not only suggest insufficient resources but increased pressure on those medical staff available and that introduces the potential for mistakes to be made.

People worried about their own health or that of their loved ones cannot always apply the "context" or perspective requested by NHS management.

They rightly expect an adequate standard of healthcare, whatever the time of year and whatever their particular problems.

Anything short of that is simply not good enough.

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Eddie Jones is a Partner and Head of Department located in Manchesterin our Clinical Negligence department

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