Hospital doctors will find new NHS order on checkups ‘impossible’

Edict that patients should be assessed twice a day cannot be fulfilled due to staff shortages, say hospital chiefs

Hospital bosses have ridiculed a new edict from the NHS which insists every inpatient should be medically assessed each morning and evening by a senior doctor.

They claim the order is “impossible” to fulfil because so many hospitals are struggling to fill medical rotas because of widespread shortages of doctors, which are as high as 25% in some places.

The instruction came earlier this month in a letter to the chief executives and medical directors of hospitals in England from the regulators NHS England and NHS Improvement. It made clear that in a bid to cut the number of patients using beds unnecessarily, hospitals must “ensure every patient has a review at the start and end of the day by a senior clinician to facilitate discharge”.

“This is totally ridiculous – another example of hospitals being asked to do the impossible by the unreasonable,” one NHS trust chief executive, who asked not to be named, told the Observer.

Another warned that getting doctors to review all patients twice daily would leave them with too few medics to staff operations and lead to longer waits for non-urgent procedures.

“It is not doable. It’s another pie in the sky. There just isn’t the clinical workforce to do this without affecting other services and pushing out waiting times which we are also required to meet. Just another request for the impossible,” the chief executive said.

The letter, sent on 9 March, also tells hospitals to ensure that they “boost essential services such as diagnostics and pharmacy at the weekends to maximise non-elective patient flow”.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents trusts, urged NHS chiefs to “not to pretend” that hospitals, which have come under unprecedented strain in recent weeks, could do everything they wanted to improve patient care.

“There is simply not enough capacity to deliver optimum care all the time, particularly when demand is as high as it currently is. We should not pretend otherwise,” she said. “Requirements cannot be consistently delivered all the time, particularly when some trusts are running medical vacancy rates of 25%.”

Contributor

Denis Campbell Health policy editor

The GuardianTramp

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