Axing admin staff could increase medical negligence claims

There seems to be a growing trend in Britain’s hospitals to axe administrative staff and pile more work onto doctors and nurses, a move which some people say could lead to an increased risk of patients suffering medical negligence.

The latest places to adopt this procedure are Warrington and Halton and last Friday staff at the two hospitals protested at a government meeting. The protest, which was silent, was against plans to get rid of as many as half of the medical secretaries.

Secretaries and consultants have warned the Warrington & Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that this move will be extremely dangerous as it will impact clinical risk, efficiency and the standard of care provided to patients.

One medical secretary, who did not wish to be named, claimed that management did not understand the vital role secretaries played in the daily running of the hospital. They deal directly with the concerns of patients thus ensuring fewer complaints go through the official procedure.

If consultants and nurses have to spend more time of administrative tasks, they will have less time to spend on patient care and that could lead to more cases of clinical negligence and a resulting increase in the amount of personal injury compensation that needs to be paid out.

Regional organiser of Unison, Andrew Rutherford, said that despite the government’s promise not to cut the NHS, real damage is now being inflicted. This staff cutting exercise will save the trust around £300,000 but it has spent £2.75 million identifying cost savings with the help of private consultancy firms.

Medical negligence solicitors’ fees cost the NHS millions every year. Axing frontline staff doesn’t seem to be a good way of remedying the situation.

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