When you are unwell you go to a doctor and you trust their medical opinion and the way they look after you. However, more and more GP’s are under pressure to meet targets, they are struggling with strict budgets and rising workloads. The head of the Royal College of GP’s has estimated that the NHS needs another 10,000 GP’s to cope with increased workloads and provide adequate out of hours patient care. Is this increased pressure on GP’s leading to more cases of medical malpractice as doctors are overworked, stressed and tired? Since 2004 most doctor surgeries chose to opt of providing out of hours care, leaving the Primary Care Trusts to provide the care. As budgets for out of hours care are getting cut, some PCT’s are also using just one doctor to cover areas with thousands of patients in out of hours times. A report by the Daily Mail showed that some nights in Cornwall one GP was covering 535,000 patients and one in Mid Essex 370,000 between 7pm and 8am. If these doctors had a lot of call outs you can see how they would become stressed, tired and easily miss an easy diagnosis if they are thinking of the other five patients they need to see.
More private companies are being used by the care trusts to provide locum doctors to cover out of hours times. Some out of hours providers have been found to employ doctors from overseas without checking they have the necessary medical skills or can even speak a comprehensive level of English. Some of the private companies are also using skeleton staff to ensure they maximize profits; the emphasis is very much on money and not at all on patient care.
These factors are leading to more and more legal cases against GP’s as more fatal mistakes are being made. In 2008 pensioner David Gray died after being administered ten times the recommended dose of a painkiller by a German GP. Then a baby was misdiagnosed at an out of hours clinic in Ipswich and died of whooping cough after being sent home with an inhaler. A locum out of hours doctor has recently been jailed for two and a half years after failing to send a seriously ill man to hospital.
If you have been a victim of poor GP care then be sure to get legal advice on this matter as you may be entitled to compensation if you have suffered as a result of the care. Solicitors at Bolt Burdon Kemp are medical compensation claim specialists who could help progress a compensation claim.