Royal College of Physicians careful to say health system ‘pushed to its limit’ only in England, Wales and Northern Ireland


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?


5 thoughts on “Royal College of Physicians careful to say health system ‘pushed to its limit’ only in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

  1. Legerwood March 13, 2018 / 2:22 pm

    It may be that Scotland was not included as such because it has the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. The Royal College of Physicians who conducted the survey is in London and it is likely that the physicians taking part were its own members. There are likely to be RCP members working in Scotland, just as members of the Royal Colleges in Scotland are likely to be working in rUK – free movement of people essential for any successful union – but perhaps not in sufficient numbers to be statistically significant. If that was the reason then you have to ask why the RCP did not enlist the two Royal Colleges in Scotland to take part in the survey thus making it UK wide.


  2. Ludo Thierry March 14, 2018 / 7:45 pm

    One health related report which we are unlikely to see covered in the MSM or on beeb Jockland: see below:

    Sandside beach find prompts fresh concern

    A NUCLEAR industry consultant has called for a stepping up of regular scans of a far north coast beach after a tiny fragment of reprocessed fuel was found to contain radioactive americium.

    London-based John Large does not think the first recorded presence of a so-called “daughter of plutonium” in nuclear waste washed up on Sandside beach, near Reay warrants closing it off to the public.

    But he has urged operators of the nearby Dounreay plant to “keep on top of the situation” and ensure locals are not facing an undue risk from the pollution.
    The particle was the 275th to be unearthed on the beach since the discovery of the first in 1984. Found 18 centimetres under the surface during a routine sweep on January 11, it has a caesium 137 count of 110,000 bequerels of radioactivity.

    If ingested, americium-241 can work its way into the bones, liver and, in males, the testicles, and remain in the body for some time.
    A response from DSRL is awaited.

    Another ‘legacy’ of the failed 311 year UK ‘experiment’. This asymmetric political ‘union’ is coming to the end of its toxic half-life mighty soon now.


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