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'Perverse targets' could cause further service failures, warns BMA

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Doctors have warned that the pressures that led to ‘appalling’ and ‘shocking’ standards of care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust could be happening elsewhere in the NHS.

The Healthcare Commission published a damning report in March that condemned the situation at Mid Staffordshire - in particular at Stafford Hospital, where patients died needlessly due to poor care.

Inspectors found that there were not enough nurses and that A&E reception staff had been forced to assess patients.

At the British Medical Association’s annual conference in Liverpool, doctors unanimously backed a motion saying they were ‘seriously concerned’ that similar problems could be affecting other hospitals.

The motion said doctors deplored ‘trusts being driven by perverse competitive targets’ as they try to achieve foundation trust status.

Dr George Rae, a GP and chairman of the north eastern regional BMA council, said: ‘To really compete in the hospital sector you have to become a foundation trust and, of course, the main reason why Mid Staffs was cutting costs was to eliminate its debt as its top priority was the achievement of foundation trust status.

‘The pressures at Mid Staffs are present up and down England - the risks are elsewhere.’

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