Black Wednesday and the Killing Season sound like Action Adventure Titles but it’s just August in the NHS

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 11th, 2012

Week in Review

If you’re traveling in Britain in the first week of August don’t get sick.  Unless you feel lucky (see Thousands of juniors start jobs in NHS ‘killing season’ by Rebecca Smith posted 8/1/2012 on The Telegraph).

Around 7,000 graduates begin their first job as a doctor today and thousands more change to new jobs as their training continues.

The changeover has been labelled as ‘black Wednesday’ or the ‘killing season’ because of the rise in deaths.

Studies have shown that patients admitted as an emergency on the first Wednesday in August are six per cent more likely to die than on the previous Wednesday.

Black Wednesday?  Killing Season?  Egad these are two labels you don’t want to hear describing the hospital they’re rushing you to so they can save your life.  The NHS should really do something about this.  It’s not befitting a national health care system they celebrate in the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games.  And the NHS, being the fine national health care system it is, is fixing this problem.

It was announced earlier this year that junior doctors will shadow a more senior colleague for four days in an attempt to reduce the number of mistakes made and ensure patients are kept safe…

Trials in Bristol reduced mistakes by junior doctors by 50 per cent over their first four months.

There’s a fine line between being a highly skilled doctor in the NHS capable of taking on any health care emergency.  And being a junior doctor with capable skills that may only kill 6% of his or her patients.  That line in the NHS is after day 4.  After which their kill percentage goes down to an acceptable 3%.

There is a reason this is happening.  And it’s not because the medical schools are bad.  It’s not because these senior doctors do a poor job in teaching the new doctors.  And it’s not because the junior doctors are bad.  The reason is economic.  A declining birth rate created an aging population.  That aging population is now hitting Britain’s pension system.  And the NHS.  Increasing spending at a time when there are fewer people entering the workforce to pay the taxes to fund the NHS and those pensions.  Budgets are straining.  Deficits are growing.  So what do you do when the number of patients is growing greater than the ability to pay for them?  You make doctors and nurses cover more patients.  Forcing these junior doctors to ‘grow up’ fast on the job.  To act as if they have years of experience during their first days on the job.

Surveys have shown that junior doctors are asked to carry out operations and procedures on patients which are beyond their capabilities and often have responsibility for large numbers of hospitals patients overnight when fewer senior staff are on duty.

Dr Anthea Martin, senior medical adviser at the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland, which provides legal advice for doctors and dentists nationwide, said junior doctors should not be asked to carry out tasks they are not confident doing and should always seek help from senrio [sic] colleagues if tehy [sic] are unsure.

The sad thing is that it will only get worse.  Until the baby boomers die out so that they have more taxpayers entering the workforce than leaving it.

Announcing the new shadowing scheme, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director, said…“Patient safety and providing a high quality service is at the heart of a modern NHS. This shadowing period could potentially save lives, and will equip new junior doctors with the local knowledge and skills needed to provide safe, high quality patient care, from their first day as a doctor…”

“It means new doctors will be ready to go on the first day, familiar with the hospital’s systems and ready to focus on patient care rather than worrying about where to find the X-ray request forms.

“It will go some way to making sure that patients get good care whatever day of the year they present and we’re pleased this is now in place nation-wide.”

Yes, let’s teach these new doctors the important things. Have these senior doctors show these junior doctors where the X-ray request forms are.  Once they get the proper bureaucratic procedures under their belt then they can treat their patients.  Knowing that when they request some test or procedure that they will use the correct form.  Reducing lost time from not making these life-threatening mistakes.  So the hospital can input patients and process them quickly.  In an assembly line procession.  One after the other. Quickly.  And efficiently.  No time to dither around with that talking nonsense.  Patient arrives at one workstation.  The worker reads the form.  Performs the work.  And sends the patient to the next workstation.  High productivity is the only answer to the problems at the NHS.  As it will be with Obamacare.  Because the Americans, too, have an aging population.

Currently the U.S. doesn’t have a Black Wednesday.  Or a Killing Season.  But you know it’s coming.  Because there is no way that Obamacare will be better than the NHS.  Not when they will be starting with an aging population that will only age more.  And they will have 5 times the patients the NHS has.  Not to mention the fact that the NHS has been doing national health care for awhile.  So on top of everything else the Americans will also have the learning curve working against them.  Which could cause a British patient being rushed to hospital on a Wednesday during the Killing Season to say with typical British fortitude, “Could be worse.  I could be in America.”

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