Patients 'at risk' from overworked doctors

NHS doctors are looking after so many patients they are missing vital signs of illness, an expert has warned.

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BMA: Doctors working harder than ever before

The chair of the British Medical Association said many of the criticisms made by one of Britain's most senior doctors will ring true with NHS workers.

Read: Patients 'at risk' from overworked doctors

Dr Mark Porter said:

Many of Sir Richard’s comments will be recognised by those working in the NHS. Doctors are working harder than ever before as all NHS services come under enormous pressure from a combination of rising workload, falling resources and staff shortages in key specialities.

The Government continues to claim that the health budget is being protected, yet in reality billions of pounds are being clawed back by the Treasury each year, while the target of reducing the budget by £20 billion has so far been done on the backs of NHS staff through year-on-year pay cuts and without any sustainable plan from the Government.

Department of Health hits back at staffing claims

The Department of Health hit back at criticism from the president of the Royal College of Physicians.

Read: Patients 'at risk from overworked doctors'

Responding to claims that doctors were looking after so many patients they are missing vital signs, the Department of Health said levels of clinical staff working in the NHS are the highest since records started.

Patient safety and care is a priority for the Government and it is right that we have high expectations for our NHS.

We now have the highest ever number of professionally qualified clinical staff since census records began, and Health Education England is working on how to recruit more.

While the NHS is one of the safest, most efficient healthcare systems in the world we should never shy away from trying to improve standards for patients.

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Doctors caring for up to 70 patients is 'destructive'

A leading health expert has warned that doctors have too many patients to look after on one shift, putting those in their care at risk as they fail to spot vital symptoms.

Sir Richard Thompson told the Guardian that some doctors are facing caseloads during one shift of up to 70 patients, many with simultaneous conditions.

You try standing on your feet for seven hours trying to be on the ball, thinking of the various complications, being nice to patients, for seven hours. It's absolutely destructive.

Not everyone has 70 [patients], but most people are looking after well over 20 ...If you've got over 20 it becomes impossible. The care gets thinner and thinner.

It means the consultant can't see the patient as much or indeed as early as they should do, so obviously the standard of care is going to fall.

– Sir Richard Thompson, President of the Royal College of Physicians

Patients 'at risk' from overworked doctors, expert warns

NHS doctors are looking after so many patients they are missing vital signs of illness, an expert has warned.

An expert has warned that patients are under threat from overworked doctors missing vital signs Credit: PA

In an interview with The Guardian, Sir Richard Thompson, one of Britain's most senior doctors, attacked ministers over NHS budget cuts that he says are threatening patient care, as doctors under constant "strain and stress" are missing symptoms.

He said hospital doctors are trying to look after up to 70 elderly patients at a time, when 20 is the maximum number regarded as necessary to ensure they receive the ideal minimum of 15 minutes with each patient.

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