North west hospitals ‘running out of room at the inn’, warns doctor

Hospitals in north-west England are “running out of room at the inn”, with patients queueing for places on wards, a frontline doctor has warned.

Friday, 30th October 2020, 5:31 pm

The emergency medicine doctor, who wished to remain anonymous, told the PA news agency that hospitals are facing an “almost impossible” situation as they try to deal with the second wave of the pandemic, winter pressures and the continuation of elective surgery.

She said: “During the first wave, patients came to A&E and we gave them care and they went to wards.

“This time round it is not that simple. They are arriving in the emergency department but hospital wards are much more full than they were and don’t have free beds.

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Hospitals in north-west England are “running out of room at the inn”

“We are ending up with people in our emergency department way longer than the four-hour national target, queueing, essentially, for beds on wards.

“We are starting to see the return of queues on corridors again and patients stuck outside in ambulances.”

The doctor, a member of the British Medical Association (BMA) who works for a health trust in the North West, said hospitals face being overwhelmed if infection rates continue to rise.

She said: “We are coping at the moment. Patients are arriving at hospital and are getting the care they need, but the worry, obviously, is if infection levels continue to rise we potentially face a situation where we are overwhelmed and running out of beds. That’s the crux of it.

“It’s getting more difficult, we are running out of room at the inn.

“I’d urge the public to please, please keep themselves safe, wash their hands, wear masks, social-distance, and don’t go to places they don’t need to.”

She said some hospital trusts may now have fewer beds available because of the need for social distancing in wards.

She added: “At present the Government is not keen for trusts to suspend any elective care.

“It feels like an impending, almost impossible situation. I think we need really clear guidance from the Government about how to manage the pandemic if the infection rates continue to rise.”

She said morale among staff had worsened since the start of the pandemic.

“Teams up and down the country have had to look after their own colleagues,” she said.

“NHS teams have sadly had team members die, and to come back into work and face a disease that has killed somebody you work with, I imagine, for those teams must feel awful.”

The doctor described seeing people ignoring restrictions as “terribly disappointing”, but said she thought most of the public were trying to adhere to the rules despite “mixed messages” from the Government.

She said: “Help each other and help us. We are all in this together and we have got to get through it together.

“The way to do it is to follow the guidance coming from NHS England.”

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