Analysis of hospital risk registers ‘illustrates impact of understaffing and inadequate funding on patient safety’

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Monday 5 October 2020
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Responding to analysis of hospital trust risk registers by the Labour Party, which shows safety risks linked to staffing, funding and infrastructure1, Dr Rob Harwood, BMA consultants committee chair, said:

“The BMA has for years led calls for much greater investment in the NHS and a long-term strategy to tackle staffing shortages. This worrying analysis illustrates the very real impact that understaffing and inadequate funding has on the safety of our hospitals, and the serious risk that it poses to patients and staff.

“Nationally there are around 8,000 doctor vacancies in hospitals and this research drives home the fact that without the necessary expert staff, patients will not be able to get the care that many so desperately need. Meanwhile, hospitals face a maintenance backlog of at least £6.5bn, meaning they either do not have the capacity or facilities to meet demand, or, most concerningly, buildings are in such a state of disrepair that trusts cannot guarantee the safety of those inside.

“Insufficient resourcing also damages the morale, mental and physical health of those staff left to pick up the slack, which leads to increased sickness absence and staff leaving their professions too soon – creating a vicious cycle.

“It has never been more essential that the NHS gets everything it needs as the already exhausted and traumatised workforce look ahead to a winter where we face both a second wave of Covid-19 and a massive backlog of care put on hold by the first peak – on top of what we know is always the most pressurised time of year. We need this assurance now as a matter of urgency in order to protect both staff and patients.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. Contact the Labour Party ([email protected]) for further information about the analysis.