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Saturday 24th August 2019

Overworked doctors threat to patient safety

4th March 2013

Concerns have been raised over the “unmanageable workload” being imposed on hospital doctors and the risk to patient safety.


A report from the Royal College of Physicians says the situation needs to be urgently addressed.

Most at risk are frail, elderly patients, says the college, and the situation is at its worst in provincial hospitals in England - and particularly at nights and weekends - because they struggle to recruit and retain hospital doctors.

The RCP identified what it described as a “worrying correlation” between low consultant staffing levels and high death rates.

A survey conducted by the College showed that 96% of medical registrars who responded described their workload as either “heavy” (59%) or “unmanageable” (37%) with only 4% indicating it was “about right”.

Suzie Hughes, chairman of the College’s patient and carer network, warned the potential threat to patient care was alarming with physicians now reporting patients are at risk of being unsafe.

“If this is not urgently addressed, frail, elderly people who require hospital care will be poorly serviced by the NHS. We cannot risk providing substandard care to such a vulnerable group,” she said.

The Department of Health pointed out there were now 6,000 more doctors than in May 2010 but agreed more needed to be done to ensure they are evenly spread across the key medical specialties.


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