NHS targets undermining standard of care say doctors

According to a stark new report by the British Medical Association, almost three-quarters of Doctors say overall patient services have dropped in the past year.

In a survey of Scottish Doctors, the BMA found 72 percent said they think targets are given higher priority than the standard of care.

More than two-thirds said they thought the same of finances.

The vast majority (97 percent) also believe NHS resources are inadequate and affect the quality of patients’ care.

Meanwhile, more than nine out of 10 doctors said they are working over their allotted hours and just under half fear being “unfairly blamed” for medical errors caused by pressures or system failures at work.

BMA Scotland chairman Lewis Morrison commented: “Our survey provides clear and worrying evidence that doctors in Scotland believe both national targets and finances are prioritised above the quality of patient care.

“This would indicate that the way our NHS is currently run is skewing priorities and not always putting the patient first.

“That simply cannot be right – everything our health services does should be about delivering the best care possible, and not simply meeting financial or waiting times targets, which often tell us little about the actual quality of care.”

“It is clear from the results that there are simply not enough doctors to deliver the quality care we all strive to provide.”

Labour's Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Monica Lennon, added: “This is an utterly damning assessment of the condition of our health service from Scotland's doctors. When seven in ten doctors say that staffing and waiting times have worsened in the past year the SNP government needs to sit up and listen.

“It is clear from this report that doctors are overworked and under too much pressure, and there are clearly problems not just with attracting staff into our health service but retaining them.

“Scottish Labour has established a workforce commission to seek solutions to the NHS staffing crisis, and the SNP Health Secretary now needs to clearly outline a plan to sort this mess out."

The findings put further pressure on SNP Health Minister, Jeane Freeman, who has struggled to improve the morale of doctors after replacing Shona Robertson earlier this year.

In response to the findings, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Since 2007 we have ensured that NHS funding has not only been protected, but has increased to record high levels. This has supported an increase of over 9% in NHS staffing levels – that’s an additional 12,000 whole time staff working in NHS Scotland.

“There have also been reductions in mortality rates, falls in healthcare associated infections, and Scotland’s A&E performance has been the best across the UK for the last three years and a half years."

“As a consequence of these improvements, delivered by committed health and care staff across the country, patient satisfaction has also increased to record highs."

“We have also increased the number of medical places in Scottish universities to a record high of 1,038, and are investing over £4 million over next 3 years in a comprehensive marketing and recruitment campaign.”

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