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Survey reports nine out of ten NHS bosses believe staffing crisis is endangering patients

A survey that reports that nine out of ten hospital bosses in England fear that understaffing in the NHS could be damaging patients' health has been described as “unsurprising” by a leading clinical negligence solicitor.

Posted on 19 November 2019

A survey, conducted by the NHS confederation, expressed the serious concerns of 131 chief executives, chairs and directors of NHS trusts in England that hospitals are so short of staff that it is affecting the quality of care provided to patients.
Last week, figures revealed that one in four people are waiting more than four hours in hospital-based A&E waiting rooms, a record number are waiting on trollies until a bed becomes available and seven out of eight clinically vital cancer treatment targets are being missed. 
Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the confederation, which represents most NHS bodies in England, expressed his concerns that understaffing could lead to patients not receiving the quality of care needed, especially as winter approaches as the cold weather creates more hospital demands. 
Dickson added that even if the next government provided more money to the NHS, it will still take time to tackle the staff shortages. Currently, Dickson says the NHS is short of around 43,000 nurses and almost 100,000 doctors, as well as paramedics and other health professionals. 
The survey also found that 76% of chief executives believe staff shortages is the most pressing problem in the NHS and 98% say the crisis in social care is resulting in more older people needing hospital care. 
Suleikha Ali, solicitor in the clinical negligence team at Leigh Day, said:

“It is sadly unsurprising that NHS bosses are raising their concerns about staffing levels, we have seen it as a factor in a number of clinical negligence cases that we have brought on behalf of our clients. The survey found that 90% of health leaders believed that understaffing was putting patients at risk. Whilst it is clear that the NHS is in urgent need of more staff this is not an excuse for poor care and it is imperative the patients are provided with safe and thorough treatment.”