‘The worst conditions in memory’: NHS doctors describe a week in A&E

The Guardian asked a number of doctors working in A&E departments across the country to explain how their departments have coped over the past seven days, said to have been the worst week ever for NHS emergency departments. These are some of their responses:

‘We are devastated by underemployment’

It’s been like an absolute war zone recently. The government at the moment, not to mention my regulatory bodies, are ignoring the worst hospital conditions in my memory. We have a brilliant team, but are devastated by underemployment and underinvestment. We have two permanent registrars on a rota of seven places.

On a recent shift, I walked in to patients waiting four and a half hours to see a doctor. This means every patient has failed the “breach” target by the time they’re seen.

A diligent staff nurse asked me to take a look at a patient she was “a bit worried about”. The woman was devastatingly ill with a perforated bowel, and could have easily become fatally unwell. She survived thanks to the observational diligence of my colleague, and later our excellent surgical team.

The London ambulance service is similarly overwhelmed. They couldn’t provide me with a transfer ambulance for another emergency case, an 11-year-old with a sight-threatening infection, in less than 70 minutes. The target is eight minutes. It is a miracle the child didn’t lose an eye.

Full story in The Guardian 8 January 2017