Clinical negligence risk highlighted by new study

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Posted 04/03/2010

A potential increase in the risk of clinical negligence in UK hospitals has been highlighted by a new study showing forthcoming NHS cutbacks.

The Civitas research found that the NHS is £130 million in debt, even though its yearly budgets have been increasing by four per cent.

As Department of Health rules state that no trust must enter the new financial year in debt, hospitals now face the prospect of having to reduce spending by making cutbacks in patient care.

For example, some patients are now being denied surgery, while a number of trusts are considering replacing accident and emergency departments with 12-hour urgent care centres.

It has been suggested that as many as one in three hospital beds could also be cut, potentially depriving seriously ill patients treatment and putting hospitals at risk of more clinical negligence claims.

Civitas spokesperson James Gubb said the findings are “of serious concern”.

In 2009, a study by Imperial College London found that one in six NHS patients is at risk of misdiagnosis in hospitals and doctors’ surgeries due to pressure on medical departments.

Sandra Patton, a clinical negligence specialist at Ashtons Legal, commented: “Anything that threatens the safety of patients is extremely worrying and it seems inevitable that the sorts of front line services that will be cut will lead to an increase in avoidable incidents and injury that can be devastating for patients and their families.”


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