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Doctors fearful over future of their hospitals

More than a quarter of consultants think the continuity of care offered by their hospital is poor or very poor, according to a poll.

Some 28% of senior doctors in specialties such as surgery, radiology and gynaecology, said they were concerned about the care offered to patients.

Furthermore, 27% said they believe that their hospital is poor or very poor at delivering “stable medical teams” for patient care.

The poll of more than 2,000 senior doctors was carried out by the Royal College of Physicians, which said it reflected increasing pressure on the NHS from rising hospital admissions, an ageing population and cuts in budgets and staffing.

The president of the RCP is now setting up a Commission on the Future Hospital, chaired by Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, to identify the best way to treat inpatients in the future.

It will examine areas such as medical teams in hospitals, handover procedures and communication, data including patient records, future planning and leadership and responsibility.

The RCP is also looking at ways to provide “high quality care seven days a week” following a series of damning reports into the care given to patients at weekends and on bank holidays.

Sir Richard Thompson, RCP president, said: “I am delighted that Sir Michael has agreed to chair this commission, which will be the most significant RCP report for a generation.

“Our challenge will be to implement the recommendations against a background of financial stringency and an NHS in the grip of reorganisation.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “Every patient should expect to experience good quality, safe and effective care, and the vast majority do so.

“However, we also know that there is always room for improvement.

“This is an example of clinicians coming together to decide how hospitals can work better for patients.

“In the future, we want doctors, nurses and other health professionals to have a greater say in how to make improvements in care, as they are closest to patients.”

According to the RCP, stable medical teams means a full team of staff available, with no gaps in rotas and the right mix of skilled staff.

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