Patient 'forced to wait 99 hours for bed' as hospitals come under extreme pressure

1 January 2023, 20:13 | Updated: 1 January 2023, 22:57

An A&E patient was forced to wait 99 hours for a bed last week, it's reported, as hospitals come under extreme pressure this winter.
An A&E patient was forced to wait 99 hours for a bed last week, it's reported, as hospitals come under extreme pressure this winter. Picture: Alamy

By Chris Samuel

An A&E patient was forced to wait 99 hours for a bed last week, it's reported, as hospitals come under extreme pressure this winter.

In the past three days, dozens of NHS trusts have declared critical incidents, with some forced employ tactics last seen at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, including cancelling operations, redeploying staff to areas they're not familiar with, and doubling-up patients in side rooms and cubicles.

Hospitals are facing a surge of patients suffering from flu, Covid and other respiratory viruses.

Last week, one in five ambulance patients in England waited over an an hour to be handed over to A&E teams.

At Great Western Hospital in Swindon, one patient had to wait over four days for a bed, The Sunday Times reported.

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One clinician at the hospital said: “We’re broken and nobody is listening.”

Jon Westbrook, Great Western’s chief medical officer, told staff in a leaked message: “We are seeing case numbers and [sickness] that we have not seen previously in our clinical careers.”

A spokesperson for Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "Great Western Hospitals, like the wider NHS, is currently facing very high demand from patients who need a hospital bed.

"This does mean that some patients are having to wait a long time to be admitted to a ward. Whilst any patient is waiting for a bed in one of our assessment areas, they continue to receive diagnostic investigations, continuous treatment and supervision from our teams.

“There are regularly over 100 patients across Great Western Hospital who are medically fit to go home but are waiting for a bed in the community, such as in nursing or care homes, and this is a key factor impacting on wait times.

“In this context, our teams are working tirelessly with other organisations including our social care colleagues to get people home as soon as they are able so that we can free up more beds.

Stock image of ambulances parked outside hospital accident and emergency department in Chelmsford, Essex.
Stock image of ambulances parked outside hospital accident and emergency department in Chelmsford, Essex. Picture: Alamy

The Trust said in recent weeks it has also taken a number of additional actions to seek to reduce delays for urgent and emergency patients in recognition of the very challenging position the health service faces this winter.

They added: “In turn, local people can also help us by only coming to hospital if they really need to, and using the NHS 111 service in the first instance who can direct to the most appropriate healthcare setting for a patients needs.”

37,837 patients waited over 12 hours in A&E for a decision to be admitted in November, NHS England figures show.

This is a nearly 355% increase on November last year, when about 10,646 patients waited over 12 hours.

Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said it is "absolutely never too late" to get a flu vaccination and those eligible should do so to reduce the pressure on hospitals.

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