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What Duty Is Owed To Patients By Non-Medical Hospital Staff? - Kay Ditcham, Tilly Bailey & Irvine

17/06/17. There is no doubt that the NHS is under a great deal of pressure. Accident and Emergency Departments all over the country handle large volumes of injured patients every day and they are of course under a duty to prioritise the needs of those people. It is estimated that around 450,000 people visit A&E Departments in England every week.

But how far does that duty extend?  Do non-medical staff such as receptionists owe the same duty as say a nurse or a doctor?

According to the Court of Appeal recently, they do not. Even if a patient relies on information provided to them by a receptionist, it does not necessarily mean that they will be legally liable.

The case in question related to a Mr Darnley who was assaulted in 2015. He went to the Accident and Emergency Department at the Mayday Hospital in Croydon, Surrey, where he advised the receptionist that he had been assaulted and hit over the head. She told him that there would be a four to five hour wait before he was seen. Seemingly her attitude was unhelpful and offhand. Mr Darnley informed the receptionist that he felt very unwell, and that he may collapse. She said that if he did collapse he would be treated as an emergency. She did not inform Mr Darnley that...

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