In the Guardian today:
‘Nearly two-thirds of doctors believe patient safety has deteriorated over the past year and nine out of 10 have experienced staff shortages, a survey of 1,500 NHS consultant physicians in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has revealed. The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), which carried out the study, said the results exposed a health system “pushed to its limit” in which doctors felt they could not deliver what was asked of them.’
This is a rare example of precise language in a journalistic report on ‘the’ NHS in the UK. Often, in the past, we have read of a crisis in England with a headline implying that is in the whole UK. However, though the above survey clearly excludes NHS Scotland, the Guardian report has nothing to say about that exclusion.
Measuring patient safety, empirically and objectively, across a complex system like the NHS would be almost impossible so the RCP report is based on the subjective, but expert, impressions of 1 500 doctors. That there is no comparable report on the Scottish system, to be found (I looked and looked), we have to assume that there is no comparable crisis there to be reported. This is evident in other reports, also. See, for example this from Donald Berwick, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in 2015:
‘The Scottish Patient Safety Programme, marks Scotland as a leader, second to no nation on earth, in its commitment to reducing harm to patients, dramatically and continually.’
Also, from the above report:
‘NHS Scotland is the first health service in the world to adopt a national approach to improving patient safety. That is why acute hospitals across the country are taking part in a dedicated drive to ensure that patients receive even safer care.’
Further evidence can be seen a 2017 Nuffield Trust report, saying:
‘Scotland’s NHS has lessons for the rest of the UK. Scotland’s well thought-through system of improving patient safety and quality of care works by engaging frontline staff in the process, and importantly the country has stuck with that approach rather than chopping and changing every couple of years. There are many lessons from Scotland’s NHS for the other nations of the UK, in particular the way it seeks to improve the quality and safety of care given to patients, and the fact that it trusts and equips clinical staff to drive that improvement.’
Please share this widely. Maybe send it to BBC Scotland?