A&E departments across the UK struggling to cope this winter

Doctors across the UK have expressed significant concerns over the pressures the A&E departments are facing this winter, which is, unfortunately, leading to a compromise in patient safety, and opposing the NHS standards. They have called for urgent action to be taken to ease the pressure, which includes a call for an increase in the NHS budget.

A warning has been issued in letter form, signed by 68 senior A&E doctors highlighting the danger patients are facing this winter under intolerable conditions. Patient safety is being compromised, and doctors urged for action as patients are dying in corridors due to the substantial shortage in the number of beds available.

New reports have emerged; which show the concerning scale of the problem. Patients are being left for hours on trolleys in corridors and in ambulances due to a significant shortage of beds. On a daily basis, doctors are forced to treat more than 120 patients in corridors due to lack of space, which has led to some cases of premature death. Last week, the NHS records have shown that 133 out of the 137 hospital trusts in England had an unsafe number of patients on their wards. These conditions are degrading for patients. The patient’s safety, dignity and confidentiality has to be maintained under the NHS constitutional standards.

In December alone, over 300,000 patients had to wait over 4 hours for A&E, with just over 85% of the patients being seen on time, which is significantly below the 95% target set by the NHS. These statistics are also worse than last year’s winter period, which presents an urgent need of action. Chris Hopson, of NHS Providers, has said; ‘hospitals were short of 10,000 to 15,000 beds and it was time for the government to decide how to fund the NHS in the long term.’

The pressure has even been more intense due to the highest flu levels since 2011, however shouldn’t the NHS be prepared to cope with event like these? Despite these worrying statistics, doctors, nurses, and all other NHS staff are doing the best they can to cope with the pressure, and it has, for a long time now, reached the point where the government has to intervene; either by significantly increasing the NHS budget, or by other means to support the NHS on the long run.

What are your opinions on the pressure the A&E departments are currently facing, and what do you think should be done to handle it?


Mazyad Atassi.

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