Don't go to A&E - by Dr Emma Jones for UnHerd - 24.08.22

We provide a graphic, real-time account of life on an A&E ward from an overstretched Midlands doctor. Writing for UnHerd, Dr Emma Jones advises those who can do so to go private rather than rely on the NHS.

“It’s just before 8am on Monday morning, and my A&E department is heaving. I’ve been on-call all weekend — I’m shattered — but I don’t have time to dwell on it. Our traffic light system is a sea of red: red for staffing, meaning we’re low on doctors and nurses; red for capacity, meaning we have far too many patients; and red for acuity, meaning a terrifying number of those patients are severely ill. Some of them are dependent on a ventilator. Some won’t make it to the end of the day, let alone the end of the week.”

The reasons for the current mess are many and complex: years of austerity following the 2008 banking crisis; an exodus of staff after Brexit, a huge rise in the population and now Covid.

And then there are the skewed priorities. According to Dr Jones the NHS

“now spends over £2 billion a year on settling negligence claims.”

How has this been allowed to happen?

“The answer is straightforward: because senior management and civil servants routinely gaslight clinicians whenever we flag up critical issues to do with resourcing, bureaucracy and waste. We point out that countless lives are being lost unnecessarily because of systemic breakdown.

Shoulders are shrugged. Charges of “oversensitivity” are levelled at us. Meanwhile, the small number of six-figure-salaried civil servants who oversee our organisation of 1.4 million people continue to hold us in contempt.

None of this is sustainable. Overcrowding in departments providing urgent or emergency care kills in all sorts of ways: delays, errors, omissions, duplications. It’s impossible to run a system in major incident mode indefinitely. Backlogs are mounting.

And the problems in one area have knock-on effects elsewhere including social care:

“In a medium-sized hospital like mine, there are between 60 and 80 patients who don’t need to be there.

But there’s nowhere else for them to go. Just as mental health patients wind up in jail for want of psychiatric care, the elderly wind up languishing on hospital beds in corridors because social care is in an even worse state than the healthcare system. On one recent Saturday night, for instance, a psychiatric patient came in for treatment.

When I asked how he was doing the following Tuesday, I was told he was still on the ward, occupying a bed, because there wasn’t a psychiatric bed available in the region.

Conspiracy theorists like to believe that the collapse of the NHS is being engineered by design, that the Tories are ripening it for privatisation. But I don’t believe that what is happening is planned; it’s incompetence, neglect, underinvestment. It isn’t organised; it’s chaos.”

Like much else in Britain at the moment perhaps.

The full article can be read below with a link to the original here:

Article for UnHerd by Dr Emma Jones - Don't go to A and E - 24.08.22
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