More patients waited over 12 hours for a bed from A&E in October at hospitals run by Pennine Acute than anywhere else in England
Date published: 17 November 2020
Photo: Google, DigitalGlobe
Royal Oldham Hospital Accident and Emergency Department
Two hundred patients waited over 12 hours for a bed at A&E departments run by Pennine Acute Trust last month – higher than anywhere else in the country – due to the effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Of the 1,267 patients across England who spent over 12 hours waiting for admission, 200 (16%) waited at Pennine Acute hospitals – Fairfield General Hospital and The Royal Oldham Hospital.
Overall, NHS England performance figures for October 2020 show that patients waiting for treatment on trollies has increased by 50%, with patients waiting longer than 12 hours from decision to admission having quadrupled from September 2020.
The data also shows that the number of patients waiting longer than 12 hours to be admitted (from decision to admit) has nearly doubled from the same month last year and the number of ambulances dispatched by NHS111 in the North West is higher than last month.
The figures have been called “massively worrying” by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, the single authoritative body for Emergency Medicine in the UK, which is warning of ‘dangerous crowding and corridor care’.
Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “I am appalled and alarmed; the data is massively worrying.
“Despite our repeated calls for action, crowding and corridor care is back and it has to stop. It is a dangerous and unsafe situation that puts enormous pressure on staff and departments and now increases the risk of hospital acquired infection to patients.
“We simply cannot leave patients for hours in crowded corridors without social distancing, making infection prevention control measures impossible; potentially exposing them to infections.
“Hospitals and trusts must, as a necessity, implement and follow strict IPC guidance ensuring staff are using the right PPE and are trained in how to fit it correctly to maximise safety for themselves and their patients. We welcome the news that there will be regular staff tests and look forward to hear how this will be operationalised. We need patients to be confident they are not being seen by staff who might be carrying the virus.
“But this only tackles part of the problem. To function as it should and provide the best care possible for patients, the Emergency Care system must have good flow. Without it ambulances are stuck waiting to offload patients and paramedics are unable to return to the community; waiting times increase across the board and patients suffer.
“The recent rise in Covid infections in the community and a rise in general hospital admissions means there has been an increase in the number of patients in hospital. We already had a bed base far smaller than required, and the consequence of too few staffed beds is that patients are becoming stranded in emergency departments, putting them unnecessarily at risk. Hospitals need to be given guidance about how to prioritise the multiple demands they are trying to balance.
“Winter has only just begun and, with the rise in community Covid transmission, it is only likely to get worse. We must stop crowding and corridor care now, we must ensure patients and staff are safe, we must ensure there is good flow so ambulances can admit patients into emergency departments quickly and waiting times are reduced.
“If these practices continue and we do not act, I dread to think of the suffering this winter will bring.”
The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has been contacted for comment.
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