THE news that A&E at Pontefract recently reopened 24hrs is welcome. Accidents do not wait to happen until your GP practice opens for its office hours’ working day.
However, as we are informed GPs are contracted to provide the ‘extra’ cover at A&E, this news should come with a caveat. If you receive the wrong treatment at A&E by a GP (trained as an emergency GP) they are under no obligation whatever to inform you of that fact.
The treatment given could be catastrophic and again they are under no obligation to disclose this fact. Hospital doctors however do contractually fall under: The Duty of Candour rules (That’s duty of honesty to you and me).
With the NHS currently suffering £16bn in negligence claims, there is much scope for improvement in ‘candour’ when things go wrong. You are far more likely to accept an honest apology at the outset of a problem than you are after years of battling silence and cover ups.
When things go wrong patients are often kept in the dark, records are removed and altered and staff placed under gagging orders not to talk honestly or otherwise to patients about their failed care.
Hopefully it will all go well, but as the NHS gets more and more contractual, perhaps the watchword should be: ‘Caveat Emptor; let the buyer beware.’