It has been reported that the NHS is failing to meet key targets. This appears to be due to ever increasing demand for hospital services, according to NHS England.
Whilst the government and the NHS have taken steps to overcome demand, through education of the public, increased funding and alternative treatment providers, the demand on the NHS continues to grow.
These performance targets, which include those for cancer care, ambulance response times and A&E waiting times, have clearly been set for a reason. There is some flexibility to take into account exceptional circumstances. However by failing to meet these targets, in addition to causing unnecessary distress and potential pain and suffering to the patient, the NHS is also opening themselves up to potential clinical negligence claims.
Ambulance call-outs have reportedly increased by 7% in the last 12 months, data from June 2015 found. It would appear that steps have been taken to deal with increasing demands and meet targets, such as increasing use of emergency care assistants (‘ECAs’) as ‘first responders’ to the scene instead of paramedics. However the use of ECAs has been criticised as putting patients as risk. ECAs have only limited first aid training and carry limited equipment. They are first on the scene to assess the situation. Whilst this step can help to meet the imposed response time targets, the use of ECAs has been questioned, particularly in life threatening situations.
Additionally, some NHS trusts are not meeting targets set for cancer care. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines impose referral targets. Firstly patients should be seen by a consultant within 14 days of their GP referring them using a suspected cancer pathway referral. Secondly, with some exceptions, treatment should start within 62 days that urgent referral by the GP for cancer. As well as anxiety for the patient there is potential for the success of life saving treatment to be compromised.
If you have suffered as a result of a delay in treatment then please contact us for a confidential discussion.