The National Audit Office has highlighted more than 4.2 million patients are now on waiting lists for surgery, a 55 per cent rise in five years.
The number waiting more than 18 weeks for operations has tripled over the same period, with 528,000 patients forced to wait longer, as key NHS targets have been repeatedly missed.
This reports follows a recent announcement that the NHS is considering abandoning its flagship benchmark that patients at A&E will be treated, admitted or sent home within four hours. The four-hour target has not been met nationally since 2015.
The watchdog itself warns that “Given that 40 per cent of clinical negligence claims are brought because of delays in diagnosis or treatment, there is a risk that longer waiting times may lead to an increasing number of future claims.”
A delay in treatment covers a wide range of issues and could be that a patient does not receive prescribed medication, a laboratory test is ordered but not reported on, they are lost to follow up or a surgical operation is cancelled and does not take place within a recommended timeframe.
Of course thankfully in the vast majority of situations a delay, whilst an inconvenience, will not result in any significant injury. Unfortunately in some situations time is however a critical factor because often the earlier a diagnosis is made and treatment commenced, the better the chances of a patient making a good recovery. If treatment is delayed, this can lead to permanent complications and health issues which could potentially have been avoided.
By way of an example, you shouldn’t have to wait more than 2 weeks to see a specialist if your GP suspects you have cancer and urgently refers you. In cases where cancer has been confirmed, you shouldn’t have to wait more than 31 days from the decision to treat to the start of treatment. This is because early and accurate diagnosis and then treatment can be critical and is the reason everyone is encouraged to visit their GP to report any unusual symptoms, as soon as possible.
A delay in diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic injuries such as fractures can also have devastating consequences. It is critical that certain fractures, such as to the wrist or ankle are diagnosed without delay in order that they can be immobilised and surgery considered. Delay can affect how the bones heal and result in a permanent loss of function.
Gregory Abrams Davidson specialise in obtaining compensation for clients who have sustained injury as a result of Clinical Negligence, including as a consequence of delayed diagnosis and treatment. We have many years of experience dealing with claims against hospitals (both NHS and Private), dentists and general practitioners. We have offices in Liverpool City Centre, Garston Village, Allerton and Golders Green, London. If you would like to enquire about a potential Clinical Negligence claim, contact us and ask to speak to a member of our clinical negligence new enquiries team on 0151 733 3353 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org