One in five patients suffer harm in Scots hospitals

One in five patients claim they suffered harm such as bed sores, falls or mistakes with medication in Scottish hospitals, according to a major survey of Scottish inpatients.

One in five patients reported that they came to harm while in hospital. Picture: Ian Georgeson
One in five patients reported that they came to harm while in hospital. Picture: Ian Georgeson

A survey of more than 17,000 people found that overall satisfaction had risen to record levels but concerns remain around delays and poor communication.

Some 47 per cent of respondents said they were delayed by more than two hours on the day they left hospital, mostly caused by waits for medication and care packages.

Patient campaigners called for action to tackle the presistent staff shortages at the heart of the problem.

More than 90 per cent of patients were positive about their doctor or nurse, but the impact of staffing shortages was clear as one in ten patients said there were rarely enough nurses and a quarter did not know who their nurse was.

Margaret Watt, chair of the Scotland Patients’ Association, said: “The problem is the staff are under so much pressure that they don’t have the time to get it right.

“They are so short of staff and they are run off their feet, that of course they are going to make tiny mistakes.

“But these tiny mistakes can mean somebody’s life. The patients are always the ones to suffer.

“We need to take a serious look at the running of the NHS. It doesn’t matter how many new hospitals they open, the problems are still the same.”

Eight per cent of people felt that they had experienced a clinical error during their hospital stay such as receiving incorrect test results.

Of these people, 35 per cent said staff did not discuss the error properly with them.

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Doctors, nurses and NHS staff work extremely hard to make sure that patients are taken care of when they in hospital.

“This statistic shows that the SNP need to do more to make sure that staff have the right amount of support to make sure that they feel valued and have the tools necessary to their job effectively so we don’t see patients being harmed after being admitted.”

More than 750 medics and nurses will be recruited over the next year across the NHS, figures revealed yesterday.

However, nursing leaders warned of an increased vacancy rate within the profession, with 2,200 posts left unfilled.

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “It is encouraging to see that satisfaction in Scotland’s hospitals continues to rise against a backdrop of increasing patient numbers. These increasing levels of satisfaction show that our decisions to put the patient at the heart of everything we do in our NHS, and to increase workforce numbers to their current record levels, are delivering good results.

“We are determined to continue to push up standards. This is why we are providing financial support to all health and social care partnerships in the form of £90m over three years, specifically to reduce delays in patients leaving hospital, plus an additional £250m for investment in social care in 2016-17.”