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27th Oct 2016

RCoA: 1/3 of anaesthetists struggling to deliver safe & effective care


New research released today by the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) shows that one-third of anaesthetists in UK hospitals find it hard to deliver safe and effective patient care due to wide-ranging lack of resources.

The RCoA is warning that a tipping point for patient care and clinicians will soon be reached unless these issues are addressed, threatening patient trust in NHS services. Of the 5,196 UK anaesthetists who took part in the RCoA membership survey, one-third indicated that a demoralised, fatigued workforce, inadequate facilities, disengagement and lack of co-operation by management, and the lack of qualified staff is restricting the delivery of safe and effective patient care.

However, this contrasts starkly with new research showing high levels of satisfaction among patients receiving anaesthesia. The SNAP-1 research study, led by the National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia's Health Services Research Centre (HSRC), examined the quality of anaesthesia care of over 15,000 patients in 257 NHS hospitals.

Over 85% of patients were very satisfied with their anaesthesia care, and 99% percent of the patients who responded to the NHS Friends and Family Test stated they would recommend the anaesthesia service. Patients most commonly reported anxiety to be the worst aspect of their operation (33%), followed by pain (16%); thirst was also a commonly experienced symptom.

RCoA President Dr Liam Brennan said: "As highly skilled doctors who manage patients through their surgical journey, we treat patients when they are at their most vulnerable. Despite the difficulties that anaesthetists have told us they are facing, the findings that patient satisfaction with anaesthesia services are very high demonstrates what a professional job our members are doing. However, it is unacceptable that one-third of anaesthetists in hospitals report patient care potentially being compromised. The results are a robust reflection of the issues that anaesthetists and the NHS face."

For more on this story please visit the RCoA website.

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