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%.”


Denis Campbell Health policy editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Hospital doctors ‘miss signs of illness’ because of chronic staff shortages
Survey reveals widespread concern that widening gaps in rotas are risking patient safety and leave ‘pressurised’ medics in tears

Denis Campbell Health policy editor

20, Aug, 2016 @8:00 PM

Article image
Junior doctors may desert NHS over contract, says union boss
BMA leader Ellen McCourt warns morale is reaching ‘rock bottom’ in already understaffed service

Rebecca Ratcliffe

03, Sep, 2016 @6:09 PM

Article image
Doctors are told to curb overuse of oxygen in hospitals
Study highlights dangers of unprescribed therapy and calls for better NHS training in what constitutes a safe ‘target range’ of oxygen in the body

Jamie Doward

14, May, 2016 @7:17 PM

Article image
Senior doctors warn of hospital closures in NHS shake-up
Consultants warn that job losses and service cuts will hit patient care

Denis Campbell Health policy editor

09, Sep, 2017 @11:05 PM

Article image
It’s time to transform the NHS – the pressures of Covid have left no doubt
The pandemic has exposed the fact that Britain’s healthcare system does not have sufficient capacity

Chris Hopson

08, Jan, 2022 @6:41 PM

Article image
Doctor’s searing chronicle of NHS piles pressure on Hunt
Medics say ‘powerful portrayal of life on the frontline’ will deepen concern for health service

Denis Campbell Health policy editor

01, Jul, 2017 @9:00 PM

Article image
Theresa May urged to get a grip on NHS as winter crisis spirals
Call for PM to make emergency statement to Commons as doctors compare chaos to the dark days of 1990s

Toby Helm and Denis Campbell

07, Jan, 2017 @10:00 PM

Article image
UK scientists create world’s smallest surgical robot to start a hospital revolution
British-built Versius device will slash costs, improve patient recovery times and help speed up keyhole surgery

Rachel Ellis

19, Aug, 2017 @11:05 PM

Article image
Family’s lonely fight over dementia hospital death
‘I feel abandoned,’ says daughter of ex-footballer Frank Lockey over denial of legal aid for his inquest in Norwich

Alice Hutton

25, Nov, 2018 @7:59 AM

Article image
Two-thirds of young hospital doctors under serious stress, survey reveals
Trainee anaesthetists complain of fatigue, disillusionment, ‘burnout’ and fears for patients’ safety as pressure mounts on NHS

Denis Campbell

11, Feb, 2017 @11:46 AM