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Doctor reveals shock state of hospital

Consultant says A&E patients have been left to sit on floors due to funding ‘famine’

19 January, 2018 — By Tom Foot

St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington

A HOSPITAL consultant has revealed how two medical wards had to be evacuated because the ceilings were about to collapse, while A&E patients have been forced to sit on the floor because of a beds shortage.

Dr Helgi Johannsson, an anaesthetist in the major trauma centre at St Mary’s Hospital, warned “it cannot get any worse ” and called on the British public to “wake up” to what he described as a “sustained period of famine”, in terms of funding.

Describing conditions in the Paddington hospital’s A&E department on New Year’s Day, he said: “Patients on trolleys in corridors. There weren’t any seats for the walking wounded. There were people standing around, sitting on the floor.

“The whole system was absolutely paralysed. It wasn’t lack of staff in the emergency department that was the problem – our Trust has been very good at providing adequate staffing – it’s the bed blockade. We cannot get our patients to where we need them to be – on the wards – because of the lack of beds.”

In a full and frank interview with the Observer, Dr Johannsson said: “We’ve always gone through peaks and troughs in funding but these last few years have been a sustained period of famine, there’s no other word for it, and it’s really beginning to show now.”

He added: “The fifth-richest nation in the world can do well by its old people and can do well by its sick people.”

Dr Johannsson said that since the controversial closure of two smaller A&E departments two years ago in north London, “blue call” attendances to St Mary’s had rocketed by 40 per cent.

The rise in calls means staff are being dragged away from planned surgery to help out in the emergency rooms, causing “a major headache” in terms of cancelled operations.

Dr Johannsson said: “Last summer the ceilings in two of our medical wards were about to fall down and needed urgent repairs, so we had to move our patients out into other wards, which put a lot of pressure on the rest of the hospital. I pray for a new-build every day but the cranes don’t seem to be moving in yet.”

St Mary’s is run by Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust. The Trust put out a statement saying: “We are seeing more very poorly patients compared with previous years and we still don’t always have enough free beds to cope. In line with the latest recommendations from NHS England, we are postponing non-urgent operations and procedures. In exceptional circumstances, we may need to admit a male patient to a female ward or vice versa.”

The government insists it is providing record levels of funding to the NHS and earlier this month prime minister Theresa May said it was “better prepared for this winter than ever before”.

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