Following last week’s apology from the Cumberland Infirmary regarding accident and emergency waiting times and yesterday’s national news articles showing that NHS A&E departments recorded their worst-ever performance in December, it is clear the hospital front line is under more pressure than ever.
It was also announced today that A&E services at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven are under review in the face of "staffing challenges".
Cut backs in others areas of healthcare and a shortage of GP appointments have meant more patients attending A&E departments. The NHS experienced its busiest month on record in December with 1.2 million extra people attending A&E overall in 2019 than 2018. The figures also show nearly 100,000 patients were not seen within the target 4 hour waiting time in December. Despite the controversy surrounding the government’s pledge of 50,000 more nurses, it is clear they are needed quickly to try and improve performance and safety in hospitals. Last month, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine president was quoted as saying “….overcrowding in Emergency Departments is directly associated with harm for both patients and staff. The harm for patients includes delays to getting the right care, simply not getting timely treatment, lack of privacy and dignity and increased complication rates for their illness. It has been clear for a long time that this results in higher rates of death in patients who are admitted from overcrowded departments.”
In Cumbria, only 75.3% of patients were seen within 4 hours, a far cry from the 95% target. This prompted an apology from the Trust who said “In line with hospitals across the country, we are currently experiencing an increase in pressure and we are sorry for any delays. We are trying our utmost to keep this to a minimum however we fully recognise that during particularly busy periods we do have patients waiting for a bed to become free.”
Decisions made in accident and emergency departments have an immediate impact on the management of an illness or injury. A&E medicine is often hectic, high pressured and unpredictable. Despite the pressures placed on the service, patients are still entitled to a good standard of care and appropriate treatment or referral for their condition.
We have expertise in dealing with the following types of accident and emergency negligence:
Mistakes when examining a patient or incorrectly noting their symptoms
Not carrying out appropriate investigations such as X-rays, scans and blood tests
Misinterpreting test results or X-rays
Failing to detect a fracture
Sending a patient home who should be admitted to hospital for treatment
Failing to diagnose or correctly diagnose a condition
Failing to note that a patient is deteriorating
Failure to note that a patient is suffering from an infection
Not arranging a referral to the appropriate specialist
Delay in transfer to specialist centres
If you believe you have suffered as a result of negligence Burnetts have specialist medical negligence solicitors, who are accredited by The Law Society and AvMA specialist clinical negligence panels, who can investigate your claim and help secure compensation. We have offices in Carlisle, Cockermouth, Newcastle, and Penrith. Contact us on 01228 552222.