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Patients Association responds to shocking February A&E waiting times
The Patients Association is responding to the latest NHS England official figures for February, which show the worst ever performance against Accident and Emergency targets. 87.8% of patients were seen within 4 hours in all A&E departments in February, the lowest performance since monthly data became available in August 2010. These figures are below the 95% standard and lower than 92.0% for the same month last year.

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association said:

“The Patients Association is very concerned about the large number of delays in A&E. These latest statistics highlight the increasingly desperate state of A&E services in England. We have had many calls from patients and families who have had to wait on trollies for an excessive amount of time. 

This is distressing for ill people who understandably want the reassurance of having prompt medical attention. Additionally, when patients see that A&E units are at capacity they can become concerned that they won’t receive a thorough medical examination when they do finally get seen by a medical professional. 

These statistics are no longer a by-product of the winter trend – they are happening all year round. They indicate a failing NHS which needs more funding, resources and frontline staff to ease the burden on stretched acute and emergency care services.”
Patient Participation Group Data workshop

The Patients Association in collaboration with NHS England, organised a Patient Participation Group (PPG) Data workshop which took place on April 12th 2016. This consisted of PPG chairs from around the country, practice managers and members of the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The purpose was to identify how patient groups could make better use of patient feedback data and to provide a potential pilot for a new approach to influence service development in primary care.

The workshop was held to scope the issues surrounding data within a PPG setting and how patients and practices could utilise such information for their benefit.

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Ambulance privatisation
Patients left waiting for hours due to £63.5m privatisation of NHS non-urgent transport services in Sussex this month.

Hundreds of patients in Sussex this month, including people with critical illnesses, have missed appointments for treatment as a result of privatisation of NHS non-urgent transport services failing to arrive. The ambulance service which is now run by the private firm Coperforma has proved to be unreliable.
A number of elderly patients have had to wait for an ambulance at
hospital, after their appointments, for over five hours. Many people including patients, NHS bodies and MPs have rightly criticised the performance of the service. A trade union which represents ambulance crews have also raised concerns.

An investigation has now been launched by the NHS organisations that awarded the four-year £63.5m contract. Since Coperforma replaced the NHS’s South East Coast ambulance service there has been a host of problems. Cancer patients have missed oncology appointments and kidney failure patients have missed scheduled
dialysis, after ambulances failed to turn up to collect them.

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, has said:

“This is distressing for ill people who understandably want the reassurance of having prompt medical attention. The culture of NHS privatisation is deeply worrying, and we have previously said that conflicts of interest would be a major problem. Now we believe this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Patients Association responds to latest figures showing NHS spends millions on prescriptions for over-the-counter items

In 2015, £9.27 billion was spent on all prescriptions dispensed in the community - a 4.68% rise on the £8.85 billion spent in 2014, according to the latest data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

However the data also showed some surprisingly everyday items were paid for by the NHS. Analysis of the prescriptions data showed that 190 million prescriptions were written out for toothpaste (at a cost of £51,000) and 253 million for mouthwash (£92,000). Another 33 million prescriptions were made out for suncream (£800,000); 280 million for Strepsils; and 12,000 for Calpol (£100,000). Other items prescribed included Alka-Seltzer, Lemsip, Vics vapo rub and Cutex hand sanitising lotion.

Responding to these figures, Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said:

“The NHS is under enormous financial pressure right now. Every penny in the NHS must be spent appropriately and wisely. Practitioners must always make sure that prescription items are necessary. However patients also have responsibilities to not waste the NHS’s scarce resources, and should endeavour to pay for everyday items such as toothpaste and cold remedies out of their own pockets.”

New guidance issued for Cosmetic Surgeons

The General Medical Council (GMC) has issued new guidance to doctors who perform cosmetic procedures in the UK. The guidance has been updated with the aim of improving patient safety and driving up standards within the cosmetic industry, particularly for the most vulnerable patients. These new guidelines outline the ethics and behaviour expected of cosmetic surgeons towards their patients and the standards of care expected. The guidance comes into force from June and covers both surgical and non-surgical procedures.

The guidance comes after a review of the cosmetic industry in England by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh. His report highlighted the risks associated with cosmetic interventions and how patients needed greater protection.

The new guidance says that doctors must advertise and market services responsibly; give patients time for reflection to allow them time and information about risks; seek a patient's consent themselves. Doctors carrying out procedures must discuss these with their patients and give them the support and resources they need to make an informed decision - responsibility cannot be delegated.

Doctors must also provide continuity of care, allowing patients to get in touch if they are experiencing complications and making sure patients have details of any medicines or implants. Doctors must also support patient safety by using systems to identify and act on any patient safety concerns, as well as monitoring quality and outcomes.

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association said:

“We welcome these new cosmetic surgery guidelines, which are long overdue. People have cosmetic surgery for many different reasons and are often vulnerable when exploring their options. The Patients Association believes it’s very important that the professionals, the doctors, think about the patient.

“It is vital that patients understand the risks involved with such procedures and that they feel fully informed when making the choice to undertake cosmetic surgery. Patients should be provided with all relevant information needed to guide their decisions, and they should feel able to ask questions that will reassure them. It is essential that they are supported and feel empowered to give informed consent.”

About Us

The Patients Association’s motto is ‘Listening to Patients, Speaking up for Change’. This motto is the basis on which we build all our campaigns. Via our Helpline, we capture stories about Healthcare from over thousands of patients, family members and carers every year. We use this knowledge to campaign for real improvements to health and social care services across the UK.
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