Margot James backs concerns about the impact the European 48-hour working time directive is having on the NHS, in particular with regard to continuity of care and handovers.
Margot James (Stourbridge) (Con): My hon. Friend is making an eye-opening speech. Does she agree that there are implications for health inequalities? For a patient who is well educated and knowledgeable about medical matters and/or has a supportive, informed family around them, the issue of handover is perhaps not as serious as for a patient who is not similarly advantaged.
Dr Wollaston: Yes, I agree. But even articulate families of patients tell me that sometimes they find it impossible to track down the doctor who has been looking after their relative. It is not just relatives, but general practitioners, who are having this difficulty. I am afraid that, as a result of this loss of continuity, the times have gone when GPs could phone and be guaranteed to have some feedback regarding patient care. Handovers have been identified, time and again, as a significant source of mistakes in the NHS, leading to incorrect diagnoses and treatments, often repeated, unnecessary or even inappropriate investigations and poor communication between patients, relatives and medical colleagues.