Counting the cost of mistakes in healthcare – human, financial and political

The scale of the financial provision required for clinical negligence claims, in particular birth injuries, brought against the NHS, has hit the headlines again. For 2019/2020, NHS Resolution needs to collect £718.7 million from its member trusts, just to pay out on maternity cases.

The big numbers referenced by the BBC recently following a Freedom of Information Act request are in fact, readily available to view on the NHS Resolution website, as are the positive steps it is taking to ensure that the biggest claims, i.e. adverse birth outcomes are reported and investigated early, with incentives for trusts to ensure that learning is identified and implemented. All cases are reviewed from a patient safety perspective; with the aim to reduce risk of recurrence and thereby the number of claims.

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With a conservative victory in the 2019 General Election, what impact will Brexit have on the UK’s care industry and its diverse workforce?

The impact of Brexit on key employment legislation

The impact of a conservative victory and the UK’s imminent exit from the EU could have major implications for health and social care industry. Care organisations are diverse employers. The care industry in the UK employs around 1.35 million people, and 7% of those are from EU countries. While only 1% of UK nationals employed in care have university degrees, 15% of EU care workers are degree qualified.

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Election results – Conservative Party gain majority

With one constituency left to declare, the Conservative Party has won 364 seats in the General Election with a working majority of 86.

In an article written in November, the Health and Social Care Secretary confirmed the Party’s pledge of £1 billion in funding per year for the next five years to assist local authorities in meeting the demands of social care.  The plans also include an intention to work with other political parties to reach long term solutions.  In echoing the sentiments from the Prime Minister in July, the Health Secretary categorically stated that people should not have to sell their homes to pay for their social care.

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Council owned care home fined by the CQC following death of resident

The BBC has reported that Derbyshire County Council has been fined £500,000 following the death of an 80 year old care home resident.

Audrey Allen had dementia and was a resident of The Grange in Eckington.  She suffered a fall in March 2016 and died a month later.  The fall caused 12 rib fractures and injuries to her lung.

Chesterfield Magistrate’s Court was told that the Council didn’t have an up to date falls policy and there was no assessment of the deceased’s needs by the home.  The home also had staff shortages.

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Amazon given free access to NHS healthcare information

Back in July a partnership was announced between the NHS and Amazon that would allow Alexa devices to offer health advice, and it was highlighted that this would be of particular use for persons with accessibility needs who would have trouble using a computer or mobile device to access NHS information.  But, The Sunday Times and Guardian newspapers this weekend revealed via Freedom of Information requests that this agreement allows Amazon access to information such as symptoms, causes and definitions of conditions.  Under the agreement, the information can be shared with third parties worldwide.

The NHS and Amazon were quick however to deny that this information included private data regarding individual patients, and any patient data would be anonymized.  Amazon said that it could not build profiles of customers according to their health needs.

In a previous blog we reported on the use of digital devices to assist dementia sufferers and the Tory party manifesto includes a promise to “invest in health data system.”  Certainly, the Alexa device and other similar devices would be useful for people with memory problems, as well as persons with disabilities and access problems, but it’s concerning that this information can be used and shared by private corporations.

Further information can be found here.


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Written by Jennifer Johnston at BLM

jennifer.johnston@blmlaw.com

Tory and Labour migration elections pledges fail to address NHS and social care staffing crisis

A report today by the independent healthcare think tank The Nuffield Trust, highlights the potential staffing risks to healthcare and social care if migration from EU were to fall. Currently, almost 25% of hospital staff and 20% of health and social care staff were born outside the UK. The NHS and social care sectors already have significant staffing shortages and vacancies.  We have highlighted in previous blogs that the demand for  care will increase in the future, and there’s an estimated 100,000 vacancies for staff for the NHS in England alone.

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NHS up for sale… or already sold?

One of the key issues to arise in campaigning for this month’s UK General Election is the future of the NHS and the role that private companies, in particular US-based healthcare companies, might play in that future following Brexit.  Last week, the Labour leader Jeremy Corybn claimed papers he had obtained showed that the NHS was “up for sale”.  This has been denied by the Conservatives.

Figures show that private businesses already have a significant interest in NHS healthcare and services and were awarded almost £15 billion in NHS contracts in the last five years. Additionally, NHS mental health services are dominated by private equity firms which are now estimated to provide nearly 25% of NHS mental health residential places.  The Independent today highlights this issue and in particular the huge financial interests of three private equity firms Acadia, Cygnet and Elysium that have invested significantly in British public healthcare services, in particular in the psychiatric/mental health residential areas.

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