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Staff shortages lead to thousands of preventable deaths

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A joint study by Imperial College London and the University of Southampton has found that the lack of medical staff in the nation’s hospitals is contributing to nearly 30,000 avoidable deaths in the UK each year.

The figures recorded in the study are truly alarming. In hospitals with a lack of nurses, patients were 8% more likely to die and in those hospitals without enough doctors, patients were 9% less likely to live.

When there are too few doctors and nurses on NHS hospital wards,  it was found that complications which would normally be treated easily had a greater chance of killing patients. Such complications include pulmonary embolisms and pneumonia which need not kill patients.

The study which was commissioned by the Department for Health drew upon an enormous pool of data collected over 12 years from 1997 onwards. Aside from the links between staff shortages and preventable deaths, researchers found older patients were at significantly higher risk of dying from a treatable complication than younger ones.

This is yet another damning indictment of the management of the NHS. With so many talented medical professionals unable to find work, the fact that staff shortages are leading to so many avoidable deaths is saddening. Unless the government acts to reverse this trend, many more families will go through the pain and heartache of losing a loved one from a treatable complication.

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