Thursday 22 December 2011

Hospital Corridors.........

"48 year old male, RTC car vs car, neck pain"

A pretty average job on the surface. A low impact collision, two patients with neck pain, no real trauma but all the necessary immobilisation precautions needed to be taken. Our patient was a big lad. We collar and boarded him, gave him a full assessment and took him to hospital. The other crew did the same and we arrived within minutes of each other. It was the arrival at hospital where winter pressures and government cuts were there for the everyone to see. As we entered the corridor leading to the A & E department we were greeted by 4 crews. Each with their patient on a trolley bed. Sitting patients, waiting to hand over to the nurse. With our two patients that made 6 trolly beds, 6 patients and 12 staff. There were long delays to hand over due to a lack of capacity in the hospital.  Within 20 minutes of us arriving another 5 crews arrived with their patients. That is 11 trolly beds, 11 patients and 22 staff. 11 ambulances were sat outside, unmanned and unable to answer calls. Out patient began to get distressed about the delay. Bear in mind lying on a spinal board, with a collar round your neck and strapped down is not comfortable. Add to the the pain you're in, the lack of privacy, the need for the toilet and the view of a dirty, tiled suspended ceiling and no one would be happy. We made a number of attempts to get the spinal patients assessed so we could let them out of their prison but all requests fell in death ears. All in all, we waited just over 3 hours for a handover and we were 5th in the queue. I have no idea how long number 11 had to wait. It's also worth noting that the 4 hours hospitals have to discharge or admit a patient doesn't start until they have been handed over! 

We are not far from this.......
Recently the media has latched onto patients waiting in hospital corridors due to a lack of beds. The problem is, it is a seasonal story, repeated every year. They want to blame. Whether it be through political agenda or personal opinion the same inaccurate stories (usually the Daily Mail) are published. The problem is, it isn't anything new, it happens all year round, every single day, the only difference being, in the winter there are more people waiting than normal. Hospitals are at bursting point and until the 'winter pressures' have passed it won't ease off. And let's make one thing clear, it isn't a physical lack of beds that cause the problem. It is a lack of staff to look after the patients, and a lack of staff caused by a lack of money. That lack of money is a direct result from mindless government cuts. I'm not saying cuts don't need to be made, they do, but cutting hospital staff where they are needed most is crazy. In hospitals all over the country, wards lie empty, in darkness, locked from the world.  That is why ambulance crews line the corridor waiting to offload their patients. There is nowhere to put patients who need admitting. 

It's all well and good though, making us wait in a corridor, but what effect is this having on the public? Call volume for the ambulance service is hugely inflated at this time of year as it is, factor in 11 ambulances waiting at 1 of the 30+ A & E departments and it's easy too see how the precious government targets are being missed. The increase in call volume has a knock on effect for every hospital and with decreasing bed availability the hospital corridor is the only place left to put them. The hospital corridor however loses the monitoring ability and resources a cubicle has, it loses the patient confidentiality the NHS constantly tries to protect and it loses the dignity that our patients are so keen to protect. The media is correct that waiting in corridors is an outrage but they should turn their blame and attentions to the only place which can do something about it. Westminster. Until policy makers wake up and realise their drastic cuts are causing irreversible damage to the health care system which is in turn costing lives, the waits, the queues and the frustrations will continue to grow.


  1. This is horrible and I am appalled at these situations. I never thought that it could get this worst. This case is alarming.

  2. when I started work in a hospital running it was one hospital secretary who did all financial duties and one matron wh did all staffing andoversaw attached nursing quarters with about 40 live in students and nurses. When I left there about 6 nursing officers and about 8 managers. This after two ward closures as well. No matron and no hospital secretary. Work that one out on a national scale as to where the money has gone. Eric

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