Patients’ beds taken DURING operations at Royal London hospital

Patients at the biggest hospital in Europe are returning from operations to find their bed already taken by another person, the Standard can reveal.

The extraordinary situation at the Royal London hospital, in Whitechapel, is the latest dramatic indication of the unprecedented demands on the NHS — which the capital’s health chiefs expect to last until April or May.

One medical source said there had been three occasions in the past week when patients undergoing routine surgery at the 647-bed hospital had lost their space on a ward while in theatre, due to the extreme demand for beds.

This meant they had to be kept on trolleys in the recovery area until a new space could be found.

The operations are understood to have involved a broken hand, a hernia repair and the control of infection. The patients would have needed to remain on a ward for several days to recover.

The senior staff member told the Standard: “Until this week I have never heard of patients losing their beds while on the operating table.”

Another source said: “This is something that doesn’t normally happen. It’s like going to the loo in the pub and you come back and someone has nicked your seat.”

The Royal London has seen an 8.7 per cent annual increase in the number of patients attending its A&E, peaking at a record 575 on one day in November.

Its four-hour A&E performance has fallen to 82.2 per cent — the current target is 95 per cent. The pressure means it has done 10 per cent fewer non-emergency operations than last year.

Full Story in Evening Standard, 12 January 2017