Crisis in A&E shown in Dispatches programme surprises no one who works in A&E

The recently aired Channel 4 Dispatches programme, Undercover A&E: NHS in crisis has received widespread coverage due to its exposure of the “suffering and indignity faced by patients on a daily basis” in the the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital’s emergency department, where an undercover reporter worked as a trainee healthcare assistant for two months.

The footage was shocking, but for those who work in NHS emergency care it was nothing new.

On X/Twitter, Professor Rob Galloway, A&E Consultant at the Royal Sussex, noted:

“last night there was a shocking tv expose on NHS A&E care. But what’s truly shocking is that for those of us who work in A&E, we’re not shocked. We have become normalised to the unacceptable. The unacceptable is now the accepted norm. Society cannot continue to accept this. Our patients deserve better.”

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) described the footage filmed in A&E at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust as ‘shocking but not isolated’.

Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the RCEM, said: “I don’t think this is unique to this hospital by any stretch of the imagination.”

Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at the King’s Fund, said: “That could be any one of a number of hospitals up and down the country, which is absolutely staggering. I think the standard of A&E care in England is in about as deep a hole as I’ve seen in the last 20 years. So, whatever government comes in, they have a huge task to recover performance.”

Incredibly, NHS England chose to deny the situation, with Professor Julian Redhead, NHS England’s national clinical director for urgent and emergency care, saying:

“What has been observed in Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust in recent weeks is not commonplace in A&Es across the country, and is not acceptable, and we are continuing to offer the trust the highest level of national support to improve care for patients.”

An interesting statement given that all the evidence points to this situation being commonplace across the country and it is resulting in unnecessary deaths.

Full story in The Lowdown, 27 June 2024