Today is the first ever World Patient Safety Day launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is a global campaign to create awareness of the importance of patient safety and to encourage a commitment to making healthcare safer.
The WHO highlights the need for an increase in patient safety in light of some alarming figures reported on their website, including that 4 out of 10 patients around the world are harmed in the primary and ambulatory setting with up to 80% of that harm considered to be avoidable. As a specialist medical negligence solicitor at JMW and seeing regularly how lapses in patient safety can cause life-changing injuries, it is brilliant that there is such a positive focus on improving the safety of patients in a healthcare setting. It is often when people are at their most vulnerable and, when further harm is caused, it can be devastating and can result in a significant loss of trust and confidence, in addition to physical harm.
It is a shame, therefore, that the BBC also reports today that the recently reported rise in nursing numbers has been eclipsed by the increase in patient numbers and hospital admissions. While the Royal College of Nursing points to data showing an increase in nursing numbers by 4.6% in five years, hospital admissions have increased by 12.3% in that same period.
Such a significant shortage of nurses will inevitably impact on patient safety. The Royal College of Nurses has stated that this should come as a stark warning and that the shortages will ‘affect real patients in real communities.’
While the Department of Health and Social Care has declared that ‘the safety of patients is paramount’ and point to an increase in the NHS budget, the statistics currently show a different story.
Let’s hope that initiatives like World Patient Safety Day help to bring the message home that much more needs to be done within the NHS to ensure patient safety and to avoid harm suffered within the healthcare setting, which we see all too frequently.