A&E wards unsafe, warn doctors
After the busiest day on record for the NHS, doctors have warned that more than a quarter of accident and emergency units are dangerously overcrowded.
The president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Taj Hussan, said that up to 30 per cent of A&E departments were dealing with fewer than 75 per cent of patients within four hours.
Four hours is what is known as the “magic mark” when it comes to patient safety.
“When it gets below 75 per cent it becomes very overcrowded and that is when it becomes unsafe. There are delays in assessment of patients, there are delays in pain relief, there are delays in antibiotics being given, and basic patient dignity is compromised,” Mr Hassan told The Times
December 27 was the busiest day in the NHS’s history, with some hospitals reporting a 30 per cent increase in visits to A&E.
The rising demand has been blamed on the lack of GP appointments and the failings in social care for the elderly.
Hull Royal Infirmary urged people to stay away unless their condition was life-threatening. Nottingham University Hospitals are struggling to recover from the record number of patients they had over Christmas.
Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, said that the NHS guarantee to treat A&E patients within four hours could not apply to minor problems and that too many people were going to casualty unnecessarily.
Following the deaths of two patients waiting on trolleys in Worcester over Christmas, Mr Hunt said that the worst problems were confined to a small number of badly-run hospitals.
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