A&E units have become like warzones, top doctor warns
NHS casualty units have become like “warzones,” with medics fighting a losing battle to cope with an increasing tide of patients, one of Britain’s most senior Accident & Emergency doctors has warned.
The comments came as new figures show the number of patients waiting more than four hours in casualty units has almost doubled in just two years.
Dr Cliff Mann, from the College of Emergency Medicine, said Britain’s emergency care system had now reached “a tipping point” – with many A&E units simply overwhelmed by the numbers of patients arriving at their doors .
He said the rising demand for services had combined with a recruitment crisis as medics abandoned careers in emergency care because the pressures were now so extreme.
The statistics show that since January, 406,000 people have waited more than four hours to be treated in A&E or admitted to hospital – a 90 per cent rise on the 215,000 who waited as long during the same period in 2011.
Hundreds of patients have operations on wrong body part
Hundreds of patients have suffered from major medical blunders such as an operation on the wrong part of the body, or a medical instrument left inside them after surgery, an investigation has found.
New NHS figures show that in the past four years, more than 750 patients have suffered after preventable mistakes in England’s hospitals.
In total, more than 320 patients who underwent surgery were left with medical instruments inside them afterwards. A further 214 patients underwent surgery on the wrong part of the body.
The incidents are so serious that they are categorised by the Department of Health as “never events” – meaning there is no excuse for them to ever occur.
Further cases which emerged in a BBC investigation included 73 cases in which tubes used for feeding and medication were inserted into patients’ lungs, meaning the patient was at risk of drowing on food and fluids and 58 cases when the wrong implants or prostheses were fitted.
A routine gall bladder operation left Donna Bowett suffering constant abdominal pain after surgeons left a seven-inch pair of forceps inside her body.
When doctors attempted to determine the source of her pain, the nurse, 42, was put through excruciating agony during an MRI scan at Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, Worcestershire, as the magnets attempted to pull the metal object from her body.
Ian Cohen, a medical negligence solicitor and head of medical negligence at Goodmans Law, based in Liverpool, said the whole system of reporting “never events” was flawed.
“I think the figures are shocking,” he said. “They really are the tip of the iceberg.
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