At least 17 ‘major incidents’ have been declared at hospitals across the UK within the last 48 hours. A&E departments, ambulance services, and healthcare groups are all facing extreme pressure – and some health experts fear the very worst has already happened for the NHS.
Has the NHS all but collapsed? The signs aren’t good
So far, seven hospitals have announced they are dealing with critical incidents. Others are operating at the next-highest emergency response level of OPEL 4, and some have categorised the situation as a ‘business continuity issue’.
Either way, the list makes for a horrifying read. Shaun Lintern, the Health Editor for The Times, has filed most of these in a Twitter thread. If you’ve got the stomach for it, you can dip into the facts and figures here:
‘In many parts of the country, the NHS has collapsed’
Concerns of a full-scale NHS collapse have already been raised by The Telegraph this week, and more health experts are starting to believe this is now the case. Health policy expert Sam Freedman fears there will be ‘significant excess deaths’, and he’s calling for a full inquiry.
“A few days ago I said the NHS had never been closer to collapsing. I think it’s fair to say it has now collapsed in many parts of the country. There will be significant excess deaths as a result. There needs to be a full inquiry into how this could have been avoided” | Sam Freedman
Who has declared a critical incident this week?
- University of Derby Hospital Trust: All meetings and training courses have been cancelled, to shore-up available staff numbers.
- University Hospitals Dorset: ‘Severe and sustained operational pressures’ have caused chaos throughout the week.
- Portsmouth Hospitals University: After declaring yesterday, members of the public have been asked to ‘help clear occupied beds’.
- Nottingham University Hospitals: Over 160 patients have waited more than 24 hours to be discharged.
- NHS Devon: Ambulance response times have been at ‘over four hours’, for a period of more than 72 hours.
- Surrey Heartlands Healthcare: General pressure on local NHS services has rendered the situation critical.
- Royal United Hospitals of Bath: High volumes of patients and long waiting times are causing misery in emergency departments.
‘Many other emergency services’ at breaking point
- Northern Care Alliance: A Business Continuity Incident has been declared, with ‘extremely high numbers’ of A&E patients cited.
- Oxford University Hospitals: Chronic staff shortages have left the institution operating at OPEL 4.
- Barnsley Hospital: A Full Capacity Protocol has been activated, as wards are being asked to host more patients.
- University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire: Full Capacity Protocol declared on Thursday, due to issues with patient discharge.
- NHS West Yorkshire: GPs have been warned about a ‘dire situation’ in local A&E departments.
- Newcastle Hospitals: Moved to OPEL 4 on Thursday, cancelling all non-urgent appointments in the process.
- West Midlands Ambulance Services: On Wednesday, a total of 561 patients were left waiting for an ambulance.
- East England Ambulance Services: A ‘Business Continuity Incident’ was declared, as 161 ambulances were delayed outside hospitals.
- Greater Manchester Hospitals: Patients have been urged to avoid A&E ‘unless they are in a life-threatening state’.
- York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals: There was a 40-hour wait for beds at the peak of the crisis on Thursday.