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Office space affecting patient care


14 April, 2008  

Patient confidentiality is being put at risk as hospital policy forces doctors to “hot-desk”, according to a survey.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said budget cuts and increased demand for office space from senior managers is reducing the amount left over for practising doctors.

Its UK-wide poll found that 54% of junior doctors questioned and a quarter of consultants have seen their office space cut in the last year.

A third (36%) said changes in either the quantity or quality of their office space had impacted on their ability to provide patient care.

Dr Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the BMA’s consultants committee, said: “The plush, spacious, consultant’s office is a figment of television imagination.

“Many consultants, junior doctors, and staff and associate specialist grade doctors have no office space at all.

“Doctors handle sensitive information and need space for private conversations with their patients and other staff.

“If they have to ‘hot-desk’, the confidentiality of their patients is put at risk. Consultants also need office space for the aspects of their work that involve innovation and service improvement.”

About half (53%) said a decline in quality and quantity of space had impacted on their working practices generally, with junior doctors more likely to report concerns.

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