20 December 2010
What Effect Will the Cuts to the NHS Have on us
Not much has changed since I was last in A & E. The same peeling national health green paint and plastic chairs in different shapes and sizes. The clock hands tick slowly and I mark the time by noting who was already here when I arrived and which recent arrivals must be behind me in the queue. My newspaper is tattered by the time I am called and I am now well into my book. At least they have hit their '4 hour target' although, to me, waiting over 3 hours seems a long time. The doctor looks very young: she can only just be out of medical school. She speaks with confidence but I wonder whether she really knows.I am one of 40% of the population who went to A & E last year. This is a service under strain. I am told that attendances rose by 5% last year but funding is being cut. This may explain why I only see a very junior doctor. It also explains why this is a place where so many mistakes are made. A & E doctors see a wide range of conditions. Much of their job is to know when what they see is serious and which is the right sort of specialist to refer to. This is a difficult task for an inexperienced doctor. I sympathise with what they have to do.But in my work I come across a lot people who limp because their fracture was missed on the x-ray and the bone has healed out of place. I act for a young woman with meningitis who was sent home from A & E. Her condition was only diagnosed when she started to fit and suffered a brain injury. I act for the family of an older women with a leak to a major blood vessel who died after she was sent home with paracetamol for back pain.The NHS is required to make savings of £20bn by 2014. If it does the paint will still be peeling.I hope I can avoid the place.Paul Sankey is a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049, or email email@example.com and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.