Patients left on trolleys whilst doctors and ministers argue over the state of A&E units
Patients are being left on trolleys in A&E units across the country, whilst doctors and MPs argue over whether patients do have an alternative to attending hospital.
In some hospitals where overcrowding is a constant problem, nurses have admitted to sending patients home before they were ready, in an attempt to free up beds.
The Royal College of Physicians have warned that hospitals were “paralysed by spiralling demand”.
Official figures this week showed that the over-70s had suffered twice as many 12-hour trolley waits than two years ago.
Leicester hospitals declared a crisis and urged patients to stay away because their waiting times were too long.
Nearly a quarter of all patients waited longer than four hours in A&E last week, and 485 patients were left of trolleys for more than 12 hours waiting for a bed. This is three times the amount for the whole of January 2015.
Senior doctors warned that these figures, leaked to the BBC, are “startling” and put patient’s safety at risk.
Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, said: If we’re going to give that care to the people who need it quickly, then we need the public to help us by making sure that where there are alternatives to A&E they make full use of those alternatives.”
The National Audit Office reported that almost half of all GP surgeries close their doors to patients at some point during the working day.
The watchdog said that the 15 per cent of surgeries that are open for less than 45 hours a week, 8 per cent of their patients were more likely to go to A&E.
Hospitals blame the lack of social care for the problem, citing elderly people with nowhere else to go and filling beds that could be for other patients.
Mark Pearson, head of health at the OECD, told The Times: “If you spend less on social care at some point the result will be to put spending up on healthcare. There’s no way round it. England is clearly in a social care crisis at the moment and costs are being borne by the healthcare system.”
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