A report by the Care Quality Commission has painted a worrying picture of the standard of safety across the NHS and care sectors in England.
Results compiled by inspectors from the organisation suggest that safety within this key aspect of the healthcare system can be considered a significant concern.
The Care Quality Commission was particularly focused on problems in hospitals, and found that over 75 percent of the institutions that it visited in this healthcare niche had notable safety problems.
This was also reflected, albeit to a lesser degree, in the care and nursing home sector, where 40 percent of institutions surveyed under the new inspection regime of the commission also had safety difficulties.
Problems in this department were also extended to GP services, where safety issues were prevalent in one-in-three surgeries.
So far more than 5,000 organisations have been inspected; nearly half of hospitals, 17 percent of care services and 11 percent of GP surgeries and out-of-hours providers.
And the major issue identified by the Care Quality Commission was a lack of staffing.
This problem will inevitably be placed in the context of the delay of a report into nursing levels of by the Conservative government.
Increasingly the picture emerging from the NHS in 2015 is of a health service in crisis, facing both personnel and financial difficulties.
And this worrying impression is now clearly spreading into safety issues. This will surely be a massive concern to healthcare professionals and taxpayers reliant on the NHS alike.
Aside from staffing issues, the Care Quality Commission also found that the way medicines were managed within the health service, along with lessons learned, or lack thereof, from mistakes were also major issues.
Among the individual cases flagged up were:
– A&E patients being kept on trolleys overnight in a portable unit without proper assessment
– staff at a GP surgery not undergoing basic life-support training in the past 18 months;
– medication mistakes at a care home – including delays giving drugs and signs of overdoses
The findings are contained in the Care Quality Commission’s annual report, and effectively represent a mid-term update of the new tougher Ofsted-style inspection regime.
Critics of the state of the NHS will inevitably conclude that the results here are a rather damning indictment of the current situation in the health service.
It has already been reported that there is a £30 billion deficit that needs to be plugged by the end of the decade, with the Conservative party pledging just £9 billion to meet this probably optimistic figure.
With staffing, financial and deficit issues all becoming extremely prevalent, there is something of a perfect storm developing in the NHS that surely needs decisive and stringent political action in the foreseeable future.
Indeed, Rob Webster, of the NHS Confederation, described the existing situation as a “toxic environment”.
Commenting on the report, the Royal College of Nursing general secretary, Janet Davies, outlined her view that financial problems are a major factor in the results obtained by the Care Quality Commission.
“Whether nursing care is delivered, in hospitals, care homes or the community, it depends on having the right number of staff with the right skills and support. There must be more investment in training nurses, keeping nurses and listening to nurses.”
This latest news comes hot on the heels of a financial report on the NHS which suggests that the health service will run up a deficit of £2 billion in the existing fiscal year.