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The News Line: News Patients’ safety being compromised SIXTY-FOUR per cent of doctors believe that patient safety has deteriorated over the past year – 10% higher than last year, a new study by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), released yesterday showed. One doctor in its survey said: ‘We are not robots, we are human beings with limits.’ Another said: ‘I cried on my drive home because I am so frustrated and distraught at the substandard care we are delivering.’

The RCP said: ‘The picture painted by respondees shows doctors struggling against rising demand, the impact of an ageing population with increasingly complex medical needs, and the difficulties of maintaining morale when the NHS is underfunded, underdoctored and overstretched.’

The key findings show:• 64% of doctors believe that patient safety has deteriorated over the past year – 10% higher than last year. • 93% experienced staff shortages across the team – 9% higher than last year. • 84% believe that the workforce is demoralised – 2% higher than last year. • 85% cite rising demand for their service over the past year – 7% higher than last year. • 47% cite lower-quality care over the past year – 10% higher than last year. • 80% are worried about the ability of their service to deliver safe patient care in the next 12 months – 6% higher than last year.

The RCP report concludes: ‘The key finding for the 2018 update was that conditions had got worse and NHS staff, who have benefited from some of the best medical education in the world, were not able to provide the standard of care they have been trained to deliver.’

The RCP’s key recommendations for reducing pressure on doctors are: • We need to make the UK more accessible and attractive to doctors from other countries. The government must relax visa restrictions for the healthcare workforce and build on successful schemes such as the Medical Training Initiative. • Government, NHS organisations, royal colleges, professions, trade unions, regulators, higher education institutions and think tanks need to work together to make sure the NHS has the workforce and resources it needs.  • Funding for health and social care must match growing patient need, and there must be more investment in public health initiatives that reduce that need.
 
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