One would expect to hear about such crises in developing countries where it is a common every-day feature – the supply and demand crises. However, one is taken aback to read about a crisis of this magnitude in a developed country like Britain. Patients being sent away from emergency wards without treatment – unbelievable but, nevertheless, true if the Red Cross warning is to be believed.
According to the president of the Society for Acute Medicine, Dr. Mark Holland, the NHS has been aware of this ongoing crisis for some time now and the current situation is evidence enough of the escalating issue and the NHS is helpless.
“For a long time, we have been saying that the NHS is on the edge. But people dying after long spells in hospital corridors shows that the NHS is now broken,” was exactly what Dr. Holland stated.
Dr. Holland continued to explain that the crises were not just limited to the Worcester hospital where the deaths occurred, “so many other hospitals in England are facing the same pressures as the one in Worcester means that other fatalities could occur.”
Worcestershire Royal hospital is supposed to have initiated an investigation into the deaths of two patients on trolleys in a corridor awaiting treatment.
One can well guess what the investigation findings would reveal: not enough doctors, shortage of beds, stress on the existing staff, shortage of other hospital staff – in short, a breakdown in the system of how a hospital should be run.
Many patients who visited the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, had to bear the brunt of the long anticipated breakdown of NHS by experts, complained to The Guardian about long waits and overcrowding in Accident and Emergencies (A&E) with people lined up on both sides of the corridors.
The chaos and mismanagement and shortage of beds have reached such a level that patients have been allotted wrong beds.
“At the moment, we have lots of patients in the wrong beds in hospitals. That is, patients admitted as an emergency, but who do not need an operation, being looked after in wards that usually look after patients with surgical care needs,” said, a visibly agitated, Dr. Holland.
Dr. Taj Hassan, who heads the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said that the statistics from hospitals from across the United Kingdom were very discouraging indeed.
“Figures cannot account for untold patient misery,” he stressed. “Overcrowded departments, overflowing with patients, can result in avoidable deaths.”
Both Hassan and Holland held the government responsible for the underfunding of the NHS and social care systems resulting in the prevailing chaos.
Professor Keith Willett, director of acute care for NHS England, while speaking to the BBC, however, tried to play it down by opposing the Red Cross analysis of the current situation as a “Humanitarian Crisis.”
“On the international scale of a humanitarian crisis, I do not think the NHS is at that point,” he tried to clarify. “Clearly, demand is at the highest level ever. But also our planning is probably more comprehensive than it has ever been.”
It would be interesting to know that the membership organization of the National Health Service, the NHS Providers, had given a clear warning back in September that the NHS was facing a potential collapse if funding was not given the due priority.