Patients deserve better

Written by JuniorDr.

Every day 20 patients are harmed in the average NHS Trust across the UK. That’s the equivalent of two full double decker buses each week in the hospital where you work.

This harm could be wrong site surgery, a simple fall on the ward, or a hospital acquired infection - all of which can have serious implications for patient outcomes.

What’s more distressing is that we already know how to prevent half of these incidents of harm. Patients come into hospital expecting to improve, but with 1 in 10 suffering some sort of medical error or harm, we need to change this quickly.

This month the Francis Report into the care provided at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust was published. It outlined how up to 1,200 patients had died as a result of poor care between 2005-2009.

Even the Healthcare Commission, the governments own health watchdog, called the conditions “appalling” with patients left on soiled beds for days and being forced to drink water from vases as no nursing staff were available.

Since the Mid-Staffs scandal was made public in 2009 Sir Robert Francis QC has been working on a series of recommendations on how to prevent a similar scandal ever happening again. The output of this £13 million inqury was a 1,782 page report with 290 recommendations.

You can read our summary of the report on p9 and what the recommendations may mean for you as a junior doctor.

We know that few doctors apply to study medicine for the money or the esteem. Most do so because they wanted to help ill and vulnerable people and don’t intentionally aim to harm patients.

The Francis Report makes it clear that as an individual doctor you have a responsibility to improve the care you provide. On p11 we’ll help get you started in quality improvement as a junior doctor.

If you’re looking to improve care for your patients make sure you check out our new website where you can find hundreds of articles and resources - all optimised for reading on your tablet or smartphone.