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#GPnews: Hospitals facing record levels of delays in discharging patients

15:00 Rosamond Roughton, NHS England’s Director of Commissioning, has claimed that the rising sums being awarded in medical damages cases are one of the main barriers to improving GP services.

Speaking at the 2016 Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester, she said: It is certainly one of the main things that I can see as a barrier. The rise in indemnity costs is not being driven predominantly by the rise in the number of claims. It is not linked to general practice or quality. The rise in the damages being awarded by the courts is an important thing to be clear about.

’It is really for Government in the longer term to ask “what does this mean?” and look at the way the judicial system operates because fundamentally that’s the only way we will begin to manage these costs in a sensible way.

’Scotland does not have the same issues that England has and that is a reflection of the different basis of law that Scotland has.’

12:50 Hospitals are facing record levels of delays in discharging patients, figures from NHS England show.

The BBC reports that there were nearly 185,000 days of delays in July, up a quarter on the same month last year.

Vulnerable patients have been left stuck in wards due to lack of available care in the community, the report found.

Dr Mark Holland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said such delays should not be happening in July.

He said: ’We should be winning in July, yet the latest statistics show urgent and emergency care under further strain and a considerable rise in delayed discharges.’

9:30 The RCGP has reacted strongly to yesterday’s news that health secretary Jeremy Hunt plans to expand NHS 111 by offering a triage service online.

He announced this measure alongside other plans to offer an app that will act as a symptom checker and will allow patients to register with a GP.

The college’s president, Dr Maureen Baker, has warned that ’asking patients to use an online tool when they are ill’ should be approached with ‘extreme caution’.

She adds: ’Whilst there are certainly still areas for vast improvement with NHS 111, particularly in some areas of the country, the service has come on a lot since its inception and we would advise against such a dramatic overhaul that distances patients from healthcare professionals even further. It also risks alienating some of our most vulnerable patients, who might not be as used to dealing with technology as others.

’Technology can lead to huge benefits for patient care, but moving a service online doesn’t necessarily mean it needs fewer resources. NHS 111 centres – online or telephone – will still need to be staffed appropriately to meet demand, and have sufficient numbers of healthcare professionals who are trained to deal with serious – and not so serious – medical conditions.

‘If this pilot is to go ahead, it needs to be continuously and rigorously evaluated, with patient safety at the forefront.’