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Junior doctors left to man hospital


29 April, 2008  

Two junior doctors were reportedly left to care for up to 500 patients during the night shift at a hospital in Scotland.

The medics, who each had eight months of experience, are said to have been given responsibility for 18 wards at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

A concerned colleague said: “The hospital would have been in deep trouble if two patients had become seriously unwell. It was a case of ‘there but for the grace of God’.

“Mercifully, the night went without major incident but it was a dangerous situation to be in.”

It is understood that four or five doctors would normally provide overnight cover, but on Wednesday night one doctor did not turn up and another called in sick.

The two doctors’ wards included patients with heart, lung and kidney problems.

Concerns have been expressed by Scotland’s Patients Association and the British Medical Association, but NHS Lothian denied patient safety had been compromised.

A spokesman insisted staffing levels on Wednesday night had been within safe limits, and he added: “There have been no reports of unsafe clinical practice.”

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