RCP report highlights concerns over patient safety

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Increasing pressures on the NHS have raised doctors’ concerns over the ability of the service to deliver safe patient care in the next 12 months, a report reveals.

A survey of over 2,100 doctors, conducted by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), found that more than half of doctors believed patient safety had deteriorated over the last year, and one-third reported that the quality of care had fallen.

Four out of five doctors reported rising demand for services, staffing shortages within their teams, and demoralization of the workforce.

Results of the survey were reported at the RCP annual conference. Professor Jane Dacre, RCP President, said: ‘The physicians I know, and I include myself, are optimistic, positive, can-do people who produce work-round solutions to intransigent problems. However, they are being pushed to their limits and no longer are optimistic about the future.

‘We worry that there are inherent safety risks in a hospital running at full or over capacity, from an increase in hospital acquired infections to the impact of burnout from overworked staff.’

Shortages in the medical workforce are an issue in primary care as well as in hospitals, the RCP report acknowledges. It says: ‘The UK does not train enough doctors, and hospital teams are under increasing pressure from staff...