Consultants from 68 acute hospitals across England and Wales have written to Theresa May raising concerns over the safety of their overcrowded accident and emergency departments.
The letter comes after NHS hospitals are experiencing the worst winter pressures on record with only 45 to 75 percent of patients being seen within the required 4 hours. Last week, NHS England took the drastic steps of ordering hospitals in England to suspend all non-urgent activities.
They start the letter by saying the "current level of safety compromise is at times intolerable, despite the best efforts of staff".
Going on to add that the NHS is severely and chronically underfunded and has insufficient resources to deal with an ageing population. Apologising to patients for being unable to fulfil our
pledge for a safe efficient service despite the best efforts of staff.
Finally, reporting that 120 patients a day are being managed in corridors, with some dying prematurely, an average of 10-12 hours from decision to admit a patient until they are transferred to a ward and patients sleeping in clinics as makeshift wards.
Jeremy Hunt has repeatedly claimed that hospitals are 'better prepared' for winter pressures this year but the consultants hit back saying, "these plans have failed to deliver anywhere near what was
Former Health Minister, Philip Dunne, told Parliament earlier this week that ‘most hospitals have seats’ for patients who can’t be found a bed in an emergency.
The letter calls for the following urgent actions;
- A significant increase in Social Care Funding to allow patients who are fit to be discharged
from acute beds to be cared for in the community.
- A review of the number of hospital beds that are available for acute care.
- Prioritisation to implement the workforce strategy that has been agreed between the
Royal College and the relevant arms length bodies.
The letter is signed by consultants and heads of service from 68 separate NHS trusts. You can read the letter in full here.
It finishes with a quote from the NHS Consitution; “The NHS belongs to the people… it touches our lives at times of basic human need when care and compassion are what matter most”.