MORE than a million patients could face long waits in A&E as the NHS experiences its “worst-ever” winter, the British Medical Association says.
It warns patients could wait over four hours to be seen — with a third ending up on trolleys.
More than a million patients could face long waits in A&E with a third ending up on trolleys as the NHS experiences its ‘worst-ever’ winter[/caption]
The BMA said a cold winter, flu and the impact of Brexit could be devastating, with 10,000 more beds needed to cope.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Ministers should apologise to every patient for this winter of misery.”
“Already, waiting lists are at 4.4million and, in the last year, shamefully over 600,000 patients languished on trolleys in corridors not able to get a bed after Tory bed cuts of over 15,000.
Interviews with medics for the BMA’s Doctor magazine saw one describing how patients have suffered cardiac arrests in corridors as they waited for treatment.
The Midlands emergency medicine consultant said the summer had been “absolutely brutal”.
They added: “It’s really corrosive for staff because they are coming into work with patients lining the corridor – we have been putting patients on to bits of corridor we have never used before – we are actually expanding into new areas.
“There have been cardiac arrests on the corridor in a number of places.
“We are completely under the cosh and I don’t think there’s an emergency department in England or Wales that thinks that patient care isn’t going to suffer over winter.”
Another south-west specialty trainee in emergency medicine said conditions were “not safe”.
The comments came after Nottingham University Hospitals Trust declared a “critical incident” this week due to pressures on its emergency services.
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BMA chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul added: “Enough is enough. Right across the health service, trusts and GP practices will be bracing themselves for what looks set to be the worst winter the NHS has ever endured.
“Patients should not fear needing hospital care or being able to see their GP, nor should they have to accept that they may spend hours on a trolley in an emergency department, waiting to be treated.”
The BMA has launched its manifesto for health ahead of the General Election, calling for health spending to be increased by at least 4.1 per cent each year and for the current pensions system – which is seeing senior doctors reduce their hours to avoid large tax bills – to be scrapped.
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