Lethal Errors: GP Explains How to Secure Safety in NHS

© AFP 2023 / Isabel InfantesAn NHS sign is pictured at St Thomas' Hospital in front of the Big Ben clock face and the Elizabeth Tower on January 13, 2017 in London.
An NHS sign is pictured at St Thomas' Hospital in front of the Big Ben clock face and the Elizabeth Tower on January 13, 2017 in London. - Sputnik International
Sputnik spoke to Dr Dean Eggitt, a GP in the NHS, about the latest Government announcements about prescribing errors and mix-ups and what the NHS needs to improve.

A new report commissioned by the Government says the NHS in the UK makes hundreds of millions of prescribing errors and mix-ups which contribute to as many as 22,300 deaths a year.

The report highlights errors in monitoring patients on certain medications, a lack of communication between GP’s and hospitals when referring patients. While there were also cases in the report when patients were given then wrong medication.

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is today expected to announce new measures to reduce the errors and bring down the mistakes which currently cost the NHS more than 1.6 billion a year.

Sputnik: What did you make of Jeremy hunts comments about NHS?

Dr Dean: So any healthcare system is bound to make mistakes because humans work in it and of course humans make errors. It’s obviously unfortunate that in medicine that it has dramatic consequences on the patients and we need to make sure there are as few errors as possible, so in essence Jeremy Hunt is right, we do make mistakes and we do need to minimise those mistakes where possible. We do however need a lot of support to make sure we have the systems in place to ensure those mistakes don’t continue or at least there are fewer of them.

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Sputnik: Do you think the errors are due to the small amount of time dr’s get with patients and the lack of NHS staff.

Dr Dean: I think some of the errors in the NHS are undoubtedly due to the insane pressures that we are all under, lack of staff, lack of time to care for patients and lack of time to educate ourselves and keep up to date in the changes in healthcare. Some of the support we certainly need is all the staffing levels right. We have education packages in place, and we are all not working at 100% because any machine that works at 100% is bound to fail at some stage. We need some head space within the NHS to ensure we have time to ensure we can reduce these errors.

Sputnik: What do you make of the government speeding up the electronic prescribing system, will this improve the situation at all. Is this another way of the not address the actual long term deficiencies that the NHS is facing?

Dr Dean: I think the government insisting on the electronic prescribing is a panacea to some of the errors that are happening in the NHS, is not a solution at all. This is the government saying we can be more efficient and we can be more effective and therefore we are not going to invest in more staff and more time. I think that’s faulted and I work in the NHS and I use electronic prescribing, so I’m aware of how efficient and how effective  it can be, but it still needs a human being to click the button to ensure electronic prescribing is accurate and correct. Human beings are still needed in the system and they need time, we just don’t have that in the NHS. We need more people we need more education and we need more head space. The NHS at the moment is massively underfunded; the talk about using electronic systems is a panacea to solve the underfunding, its fundamentally wrong. The NHS needs more money being put into it, so we have enough people to look after patients. Using computer systems for efficiency is great, but it is not enough to secure safety in the NHS.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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