Patients 'At Risk' Due To Targets

Pressure over hospital budgets and targets

18.06.2010

Results from a new survey have shown that pressures over budgets and targets may be compromising patient safety in hospitals.

In a poll carried out by Bournemouth University, around 20% of surgeons questioned said they had been involved in incidents over a two-week period where patients had been harmed.

Complaints by surgeons included having a lack of time to carry out complex operations, and having to operate on patients they had never seen before.

The survey questioned 549 surgeons, or a quarter of members belonging to the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland.

Of those, 40% admitted that in the two-week period of observation, they had been involved in an incident in which a patient was nearly harmed.

But a worrying 19% said a patient had actually been harmed.

The authors of the report, which is published in the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons, said problems arose in around 35 of operations.

In response to the survey, the Government said patients had been endangered due to a "culture of micromanagement".

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Julie Lewis from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “These statistics are extremely alarming. We are increasingly seeing cases for clients where budgetary constraints are compromising patient safety, and this can only lead to an increase in the numbers of clinical negligence claims against doctors and hospitals. The emphasis should be on avoiding patient safety incidents in the first place.”