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.

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

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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IFS predicts billions required for additional funding for rising costs of adult social care

A recent analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has revealed that many billions of pounds will be required by councils to fund adult social care over the lifespan of the next Parliament. We have previously written about the fact that the elderly population is set to increase over the next 25 years (see our previous blog, here) and this is cited as one of the reasons for the required increases in funding, as well as increases in the number of disabled adults and increases in wages.  The IFS report says that “even if council tax revenues increased by 4.5% a year – more than double the rate of projected inflation – adult social care spending could amount to half of all revenue from local taxes by 2035.”[1] The clear need for funds raises the question of how to  make up the shortfall and provide adequate care for the less able and elderly of society. Do councils continue to rely on council tax and business rates for funding or are ring-fenced grants from Westminster the answer?

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Duty of candour prosecutions – is silence golden?

The statutory duty of candour has been hailed the greatest reform in patient rights in the modern era. It was brought in under the Health & Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 as amended, in response to the Mid Staffordshire Inquiry.

The regulation 20 duty of candour requirements are detailed and specific.  There is an overriding obligation to be open and transparent, coupled with clear requirements to notify patients and/or their families where there is any unintended or unexpected incident, whether this amounts to an error or not.  This notification must be prompt. Whilst the requirements are dependent upon the level of harm sustained, the underlying principles governing the provisions are focussed on ensuring that patients are kept properly informed and that errors and/or other unintended consequences are not ‘brushed under the carpet’.

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Elderly generation of the population set to double over next quarter century  

The Office of National Statistics yesterday released a report on the potential future population size of the UK based on 2018 data.

Of note to the care sector is that the report highlights there will be an increasing numbers of older people in the future.   The proportion of the population aged 85 years and over is projected to nearly double in the next 25 years – in 2018 there were 1.6 million people aged 85 years and over, but by mid 2043, this is expected to reach nearly 3 million.  The report also considers growth in the different sectors of the population as divided between children/ working age people/pensioners, and predicts  that by 2043 the numbers of people at pensionable age will have grown the most.

The data from this report is for use in planning and policy in areas such as pensions and healthcare.  If the elderly population is set to double in the next quarter century, this inevitably will place further pressure on the care sector.  We have talked in previous blogs about the lack of consensus about how the care system is to be funded and organised going forward.  One can only hope that the government will take this report on board and consider the need for a robust and modern social care system.

A full copy of the report can be found here.


jb-85 Written by Jennifer Johnston