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Comment on emergency surgery staffing levels study

17 Dec 2015

Commenting on The British Journal of Anaesthesia’s study into mortality of emergency general surgical patients, Miss Clare Marx, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

“While many hospitals provide high-quality emergency surgery it is wholly unacceptable that death rates vary so significantly for the sickest patients across the country.

“Today’s published data is old and must be interpreted carefully. However, the Royal College of Surgeons has been clear there is still a current and urgent need to review how emergency care is provided in the NHS, including staffing arrangements. This has to become one of the top priorities for the NHS.

“To help solve this there needs to be an understanding that we cannot expect every single hospital to provide all emergency services.  We believe emergency surgery should increasingly be provided in networks of hospitals so patients can be directed to where they will get the best possible treatment for their condition.

“The data in this study is now up to a decade old and a number of hospitals have boosted staffing levels, particularly nurse staffing, in the wake of the deaths at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. The authors have stressed that they cannot prove the cause of variations in death rates.”

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