A clinical negligence expert from Merseyside law firm, Your Legal Friend has welcomed government plans to improve the continuity and quality of care in NHS hospitals but says this must also apply to GP care in the region.
Referring to findings of the British Health Report, a survey specially commissioned by Your Legal Friend, Sara Stanger (left), Solicitor and Head of Clinical Negligence, says measures announced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to prevent hospital patients being subject to a “ping pong of referrals” between various doctors are encouraging but that continuity of GP care must also be addressed.
The British Health Report, which was commissioned to gain a comprehensive picture of how doctors and patients feel about the UK healthcare system, found that over a quarter of patient respondents had delayed going to see the doctor because they couldn’t see a medical professional they were familiar with. This figure was reflected in Liverpool where almost 27% of respondents said they had delayed making an appointment because they could only see a doctor they didn’t know and would not feel comfortable with that. In all, 18.2% of respondents in Liverpool said they never saw the same doctor.
Local doctors are equally concerned. Over a third (37%) of North West doctors have dealt with a patient that delayed going to see them because it takes too long to get an appointment. Shockingly 69% of local doctors believed that the patients that delayed appointments experienced a negative impact on their recovery.
Sara Stanger who launched the report alongside TV doctor Dr Chris Steele MBE (pictured right) comments: “We absolutely agree with the Health Secretary when he says that hospital doctors must remember that every patient is a person. The risk of negligent treatment is clearly heightened when patients are passed from one medical professional to another, to another. There is more room for error or things being missed.
“This risk also applies in the GP arena too, when patients are not experiencing continuity of care. As our report statistics have shown, the ‘family doctor’ is a dying breed in 21st century Britain. This would certainly appear to be the case in our own region. We hope that the government will expand its focus on care continuity and personalised medical attention to GP surgeries.”