NHS chaos: A&E closes; patient waits 45 hours for bed

Already, the pandemonium of an NHS strike has compelled one A&E department to close for the holiday season.

The unit at Cheltenham General Hospital remained closed from 8 a.m. on December 23, immediately following the conclusion of the nationwide three-day junior doctor strike.

It will once more be closed from 8 p.m. on January 1 to 8 a.m. on January 9, in observance of the largest British Medical Association (BMA) action ever against the NHS.

Patients who are in critical medical conditions will be transferred to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital for emergency care after a 30-minute diversion.

Already, health officials have cautioned that the forthcoming action poses a “huge disruption” to “virtually all” routine care.

It occurs during the most hectic period of the year when hospitals are already contending with unprecedented backlogs.

An indication of the severe pressures the NHS will face before the strike chaos commences. A Kent A&E patient was required to wait for a ward berth for forty-five hours.

At 1:00 a.m. on November 13, Steven Wells, a 31-year-old forklift operator, presented at the William Harvey hospital in Ashford, Kent, vomiting blood.

However, he was not assigned a ward berth until November 14 at 10 p.m.

Hospital Closure Amidst Staff Strikes Raises Patient Concerns

Mr. Wells, who posted a photo of himself sleeping on the floor, remarked, “At times, it was literally like a war zone.” It dissuaded me from returning to the hospital, as my previous experience was so distressing and humiliating.

“People are stepping over you and looking down on you, and all you want is to be looked after.”

“They need more full-time proper staff in place,” he continued.

No justification exists for how I was treated.

You should be placed in a bed anywhere if you are in that much anguish and discomfort.

The closure had “not been taken lightly,” according to Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust, which added that it would collaborate closely with local partners to ensure that “those in greatest need continue to have access to high-quality care and support.”

Cheltenham General Hospital will not offer any minor injury and illness unit services during either of the disruptions. It will remain shuttered for the duration of the night.

The chief medical officer of NHS Gloucestershire is Dr. Ananthakrishnan Raghuram. He expressed regret that a significant number of patients will be inconvenienced by the service disruptions.

Unless instructed otherwise, patients who have a scheduled hospital operation or procedure during the strike period should report to the facility as usual.

Commencing on December 20th, thousands of junior physicians will vacate their stations for three days leading up to Christmas.

Longest Strike in NHS History Raises Concerns over Patient Care

On January 2, the health service will begin its longest six-day strike in 75 years.

Because employees are anticipated to operate on a “Christmas day” schedule during both periods of industrial action. Urgent care must remain uninterrupted.

Ministers and BMA representatives had been negotiating the salary dispute for five weeks.

However, according to the union, its junior physicians committee unanimously approved additional strikes. This decision followed the Department of Health and Social Care being accused of failing to present a “credible” offer.

They deemed “completely insufficient” the government’s 3% increase on top of the average 8.8% increase they received during the summer.

Junior physicians begin their careers at ยฃ30,000 and can earn up to ยฃ60,000 before advancing.

Wes Streeting, the shadow health and social care secretary for Labour, stated, “Patients will be filled with dread at the thought of A&E departments closing as a result of Rishi Sunak’s inability to end NHS strikes.”

“The Conservatives must immediately cease playing politics with our National Health Service. They should negotiate an end to these strikes with junior doctors at the negotiating table.”

Before January 10, NHS administrators had already cautioned that hospitals would only be operating at maximum capacity for four weekdays.

December 27, 28, 29, and January 2 are untouched until January 10, when the holiday chaos and walkouts begin.

NHS Faces Prolonged Crisis

National medical director of the NHS Professor Sir Stephen Powis stated, “When the Christmas and New Year’s holidays are considered, these strikes will extend that period of decreased activity and put the health service at a disadvantage as demand begins to increase significantly in the new year.”

The National Health Service (NHS) has now experienced strikes for an entire calendar year, beginning on December 15, 2022.

Over 1.1 million outpatient and inpatient appointments have been rescheduled since that time.

Dr. Vivek Trivedi and Dr. Rob Laurenson, co-chairmen of the BMA junior physicians committee, cautioned today that the government could still “avoid the need for these strikes.”

They further stated, “We shall be prepared and eager to engage in conversation whenever they desire.” These strikes may be canceled if a credible offer can be presented the day before, or even during, the action.

“The government fails to invest the necessary amount in personnel to avert the crisis each winter that we raise the alarm about the NHS; now is the chance to break the trend.”

According to the most recent NHS data, nearly 43,000 patients who presented to emergency departments in England during November were required to wait for admission, transfer, or discharge for over 12 hours.

The target of seven out of ten patients was not achieved within four hours, as stated by the health service.

However, these numbers only account for trolley waits. This refers to the time between when physicians determine a patient requires admission and when that patient receives a bed.

Alarming Rise in A&E Patients Waiting Over Twelve Hours

The data depicting precise arrival times at A&E are considerably discouraging. It reveals that as many as one in ten patients must wait a minimum of twelve hours.

Dr. Vicky Price, the soon-to-be president of the Society for Acute Medicine, stated, “We have been cautioning against the risks associated with corridor care for nearly the entire year. The fact that this practice has persisted for so long indicates that it is now considered standard procedureโ€”which is completely unacceptable.”

It is especially hazardous for elderly patients. It is demoralizing and degrading for the personnel.

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