Doctors have described how this year is the worst winter crisis ever faced by the NHS. In recent weeks a doctor in a busy NHS hospital, who wishes to remain anonymous, has come forward to reveal how bad the situation really is.
They comment that within the past couple of weeks they have in fact “lost” some of their patients in the hospital. The doctor deals with medical patients and on an average day, they will deal with people with chest infections, urinary tract infections, elderly patients who have had falls and patients suffering from dementia.
They have advised that when the wards which these patients would normally be admitted to are full, they can of course not just send them away so they are sent to wherever there is a spare bed. The process is called “outlying” and beds are often found on surgical wards that are normally used for outpatient procedures such as endoscopy.
The knock- on effect of this is that elective procedures are then cancelled, but emergency patients who are admitted via A & E, of course, have to take priority. The doctor advised that when this process is happening, someone is meant to keep track of where the patients are so they can find them, but in reality with the logistics of an over-crowded and understaffed hospital they often find that the lists are out of date, with patients still on the list who have already been discharged or who have unfortunately passed away.
This problem is a real worry for doctors throughout the NHS, where it is not uncommon to have patient numbers of around 200. They are concerned that they could have a seriously ill patient under their care who slips through the net and they do not know about them. The doctor concerned has stated that this is the worst they have ever seen the NHS in 10 years and they believe that it will only get worse as the cold deepens.
Fahmidah Ali, a Solicitor at the Medical Accident Group, said that “it is always worrying to hear of lives being put at risk as a result of over-crowding. The staff at these hospitals do a wonderful job in trying to divide their time amongst all of the patients who need them and often without breaks. The fact that patients are being admitted to wards all over the hospital with no adequate records of where they are, is only placing further pressure on the staff involved. These problems are only going to result in patients being missed and unfortunately is likely to result in lives being lost.”
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