The outcomes from care in our health services vary significantly and high quality care is not available all the time

Too often, the quality of care that patients receive and the outcome of their treatment depend on when and where they access health services. For example, we do not always provide the recommended level of cover by senior doctors in services dealing with emergency care, maternity or children.

People taken ill at weekends or in the evenings are less likely to see a senior doctor in hospital.

The London Quality Standards, developed by senior clinicians in partnership with patients, have set out minimum safety guidelines which we want all of our hospitals to meet. However, we also need to bear in mind that there is a shortage of senior doctors in some areas, making it difficult to meet these standards across all our hospitals.

We don’t always treat people early enough to have the best results

Our services are often not set up to detect problems soon enough, meaning that people with long term conditions or mental illness often have to be admitted to hospital in crisis.

Earlier diagnosis and support could have helped them to get better sooner or prevented their illness becoming so serious. In this respect, we are not putting enough emphasis or resources into services based in the community, to prevent people becoming ill or encourage them to take responsibilities in managing their own health.

This is why some clinicians feel we have become an ‘illness service’ rather than a health service, as we too often treat illness rather than preventing it.

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