NHS bosses have admitted that its future could be compromised as a result of the latest funding crisis. According to the National Audit Office, a quarter of all NHS Trusts are now in debt and £511 million of public money was used in 2014 to bail them out. Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee said:
“The future sustainability of the National Health Service is at risk.”
If customer demand for the service cannot be met by the level of funding available, significant changes could be made to the way the NHS functions.
The financial crisis could take us back to 12 month waiting lists for non emergency surgery.
Jasmine Pomfret, Clinical Negligence specialist at Birchall Blackburn Law, is worried about the effect this could have on patients:
“A return to routine waits of up to a year for procedures like knee and hip operations could result in patients being in an increasing amount of pain and suffering for longer. Although it would allow surgeons to focus on more urgent patients, people on the waiting list would be driven to seek private treatment. This is contrary to the principal of the NHS as a service that is free for everyone to use.”
With the NHS Confederation revealing that funds of £2 billion per year would be needed to maintain the current levels of service for the next two years, various options are being explored. This includes refusing treatment to patients attending accident and emergency departments with minor injuries.
Jasmine points out:
“This could lead to patients being misdiagnosed or receiving inappropriate treatment. They may not be sent for surgery due to the prohibitive cost, opening hospitals up to negligence claims.”
The NHS is expected to go into debt in the coming years, since patient demands are outstripping the funding available. The funding concerns are compounded by a 93% rise in the number of elderly patients attending A & E over a five year period.
Health Service Managers are warning that if the funding crisis is not resolved, the NHS may have to start charging patients.
According to Rob Webster, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation:
“If the NHS cannot afford to fund everything, then they will need to make tough choices about what they do fund.”
The pressures and strains on both hospitals and GP’s as a result of the financial crisis may affect the treatment received by patients and make negligent care unavoidable.
Medical negligence is a complex area of law that can seem very daunting at a time when you are already dealing with physical or emotional trauma. For most people, the cost of pursuing a claim can also seem prohibitive.
Our Clinical Negligence team will talk you through all aspects of your case and look into funding options including a no-win no fee agreement. If you or a loved one would like further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0800 614 722 or 0333 321 2192 from a mobile.