A frail 86 year old woman is admitted to hospital, with injuries from a fall at her son’s home. She contracts the norovirus and her condition worsens with medical negligence. The nursing staff fail to get the patient allocated to a consultant. This is standard operating procedure that simply did not happen. So that when the doctors do their rounds they do not see the unfortunate lady at all. In her weakened condition the lady dies and the cause is norovirus but the catalyst is medical negligence.
Her family is left bereaved. Wondering why and how this can happen in modern day Britain’s NHS. This is not a one-off case. This patient was a victim of system in chaos. The ward this lady was on, was a temporarily and recently opened one. It was needed to care for extra winter demand for beds. It was staffed by agency nurses, ‘bank’ nurses and others pulled in from various other wards in the same hospital.
The consultant rota was not yet in place when the patient was admitted. Medical staff admit the the lady was in need of intensive care, but she could not be moved until she was 2 days clear of vomiting and diarrhea. The other patients on the ward were not as chronically ill as the deceased, but staffing levels were such, that she could not get the care she so patently needed. Staffing was not even at the funded levels.
This case, like so many others, is now in the hands of legal medical negligence professionals. It will inevitably cost the NHS a great deal more than the cost an extra nurse or two on that ward. When we enter the NHS as patients we become the last link in a chain of quality service that is only as strong as the weakest link. With limited resources and a complex budgeting system everybody involved in healthcare makes decisions and allocates resources according to priority.
The government has a priority to cut the national debt. The NHS has a frozen budget and therefore less ‘real’ money to spend every year for the last four and on into an indefinite and uncertain future. All the while the rich get richer and economic inequality grows. Medical negligence is just one very obvious symptom of a social system based on inherited wealth, crony market capitalism, impotent party political democracy and a World that values commodity traders above nurses.