PMQs: Sunak and Starmer clash over NHS waiting times
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A man has died at a hospital in London after waiting 12 hours to see a doctor at the A&E department. The 80-year-old arrived with a suspected blood clot before being taken for resuscitation when his condition worsened and he died of cardiac arrest.
In an interview with the Mirror, an A&E medicine consultant from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in southeast London has spoken about the incident.
Dr Milan Chand has said he is finding it difficult to reconcile that he was unable to offer the patient more dignity.
He claimed: “Him having to wait overnight in the waiting room with his wife is something that stuck with me when I went home that evening.
“It’s not common for me to speak to my wife about work, but I said to her that today was particularly tough.
“Having him inside A&E instead of in that waiting room would have been more dignified.”
This story comes after medical leader Dr Adrian Boyle, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, warned last month that hospitals were “too full” and the situation was “much worse than in previous years”.
According to NHS England, around 37, 837 people waited more than 12 hours in A&E to be admitted to a hospital department in November 2022, while at the same time in 2021, the figure was 10,646.
Dr Chand has said that it is now no longer unusual for patients to wait up to ten hours before seeing a doctor.
When he first began his job in 2018, Dr Chand said it was typical for 350 patients to arrive at A&E in one day, but now the number is around 500.
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Ben Travis, the chief executive of the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, has said he fears NHS staff are “overwhelmed”.
He warned: “I don’t know anyone that’s seen a worse winter. Staff sometimes feel overwhelmed. There’s a can-do attitude but sometimes it feels like you’ve hit a tipping point.
“We have more patients than our A&E is designed to accommodate and patients who need to be on a ward being held in A&E
“That means A&E and the waiting room get very full. Having too many patients and not enough staff increases the risk of being able to keep everyone safe.”
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Dr Chand has said the “burden of worry” has increased every time he turns up to the hospital for work.
He added: “I’m thinking, ‘We are full and how are we going to deal with it if pressure increases?’
“It’s also mentally fatiguing when you go home. I’m thinking about work a lot more than I used to.
“I feel on more occasions than I ever have before that we are not delivering the care I would like to.
“My colleagues and I want to do more but can’t because of the circumstances around us. We are stretched.”
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