Emergency surgery patients lives at risk, say surgeons
Published: 29th Sep 2011 01:44:29
The lives of thousands of NHS emergency surgery patients are being put at risk because of poor care and delays in treatment, leading surgeons say.
The Royal College of Surgeons says poor access to facilities like scans, X-rays and operating theatres means some emergencies are not spotted in time.
The RCS also says not enough patients receive critical care after surgery.
NHS managers said they, surgeons and ambulances services needed to work together to achieve real change.
The RCS adds that junior staff are often left to deal with complications.
A report by the college highlights figures that show that about 170,000 patients undergo emergency abdominal operations each year.
Of these, 100,000 will develop complications and 25,000 of these patients will die.
Among the elderly, deaths can climb to 40%.
The report also says that while survival rates vary from hospital to hospital, there can even be significant differences from day-to-day within the same institution.
The report says that poor access to facilities such as scanners and operating theatres means diagnosis is sometimes slow, not enough patients receive critical care after surgery and when they do it is for too short a time.
It also says less experienced junior staff are often left to deal with complex and dangerous cases.
There is also the suggestion that elective or planned surgery has been prioritised over emergency surgery and some may link this to the pressure on hospitals to bring down waiting lists.
The study says hospitals need to provide fast access to operating theatres.
Iain Anderson, the author of the report and a consultant general surgeon at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said trusts needed to acknowledge that problems exist and review the way their services work.
"Every single emergency patient who comes through the door of an NHS hospital should have an individual risk assessment, diagnosis, treatment plan and post-operative care plan prioritised according to need," he said.
"Instead we have some of the NHS's sickest patients languishing on inappropriate wards, treated by juniors and with no plan in place to deal promptly with unexpected complications.
"These tend to be the patients who end up in intensive care units for lengthy periods of time or, sadly, too sick to be helped."
The report suggests improvements but the surgeons say NHS managers in particular need to recognise the problems facing those described as the "forgotten patients" of the health service.
David Stout, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation which represents NHS managers, says: "If we want to make a real change to emergency services we need to get everyone - managers, surgeons and ambulances services - working together to ensure patients receive properly planned, quality surgical care."
Bruce Taylor, president of the Intensive Care Society, said: "It is vital that the guidance is initiated as it in the best interest for potentially vulnerable patients who require surgical procedures."
A spokesman at the Department of Health said: "It is essential that hospitals provide the safest possible care for patients.
"Hospitals should follow this guidance and monitor the quality of care they are giving to their patients and ensure that they are providing appropriate levels of services and staffing."
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2011. Emergency surgery patients lives at risk, say surgeons [Online] (Updated 29th Sep 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/189709/Emergency-surgery-patients-lives-at-risk-say-surgeons [Accessed 9th Mar 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
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