One of the most divisive topics of the decade, the running of the NHS has been at the heart of political, financial and legal debate for many years. With a public so fiercely protective of the services provided, a growing population and creeping privatisation; a recent survey by UK clinical negligence solicitors Your Legal Friend took the temperature of NHS patients – to find how far the pressure on the NHS under health secretary Jeremy Hunt, is being felt.
Of the 2,000 people surveyed, 80% admitted that they would wait a month before chasing an expected follow up appointment and that 9% would wait until they were contacted instead of chasing up an appointment. 86% of those surveyed noted an awareness of the pressures the NHS is under, such as budget cuts or lack of investment. This worrying response suggests the British public are taking on the burden of the pressured NHS, compromising their own health in an attempt pull the cherished national service back from breaking point.
With a £1.4 billion compensation budget this year, it’s clear that the NHS anticipates the cost of reduced services; with the chances of more patients being subjected to mishandled test results, missed follow up appointments and other instances of neglect, borne out of lack of staff or poor organisation. Despite fierce loyalty to the service, the legal profession is preparing itself for increasing cases of negligence, as increasingly privatised services have none of the loyalty the NHS enjoys, whilst simultaneously, few private services have managed to build successful reputation with a public who cherishes the NHS.
The survey also found that almost half of 16-24 year olds would not see an alternative healthcare professional if their preferred one wasn’t available, while that number was closer to 30% for the over 55s. The younger cohort were much more likely to be impatient with NHS staff is pressures resulted in a poor standard of healthcare, with 46% of 16-24 year olds expressing this opinion. Just 35% of the over 55s surveyed said the same. Overall, 40% of those surveyed said they would be impatient with staff is NHS pressures resulted in a poor standard of care. 28% of those surveyed were assured that they wouldn’t complain about substandard care from the NHS.
The NHS receives 480 written complaints a day, according to NHS digital.