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Saturday 7th
posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

And now even Red Cross is intervening in the crisis as Tories run service into ground

PATIENTS are dying in corridors as a crisis engulfing the NHS has pushed overflowing A&E departments to shut their doors to urgent cases, it was revealed yesterday.

Two deaths at Worcester Royal Hospital A&E last week highlighted the life threatening pressures being faced by the NHS as rising demand and funding cuts impact health and social care.

A woman died in a resuscitation bay after she had suffered an aneurysm and waited on an emergency trolley in an A&E corridor.

A second patient died from a heart attack while on a trolley for more than 35 hours waiting to be transferred to a ward.

The Worcestershire acute trust was placed in special measures in December 2015 when the Care Quality Commission raised concerns.

Overall, A&E departments in England could not attend to patients on 143 occasions in December — an astonishing 63 per cent rise compared to the same period in 2015 — according to figures from NHS England.

The latest statistics revealed a record number of 42 diverts — when patients are sent to other hospitals as a “last resort” — in the week including Christmas and new year compared with an average of 20 over a typical winter week in the NHS.

And 50 out of the 150 NHS trusts in England told the Nuffield Trust they have been struggling to cope with winter demand. Seven warned that they were not able to deliver even the most basic care to patients.

Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards warned that the situation could worsen in the coming weeks. He told Radio Four’s Today programme: “As we know there are major problems in social care. But also NHS community services. The ability of hospitals to get people out is still really tricky.

“The real crunch point generally comes in week two or three after the Christmas break. I think there are early signs that there is a problem.”

The crisis has become so bad that even the British Red Cross is diverting resources to help. The humanitarian charity, more usually seen at front-line disaster zones, has responded to what it is calling the “humanitarian crisis in our hospital and ambulance services across the country” by deploying its own staff to ease the burden on the NHS, according to the charity’s chief executive Mike Adamson.

Royal College of Emergency Medicine president Dr Taj Hassan blamed chronic underfunding and understaffing as he warned that hospitals are “in an absolute acute state of distress.”

Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: “The NHS is a lifesaver but it’s being starved of cash — and patients are suffering.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth warned: “The government urgently needs to take action to make sure that our NHS can cope over the busy winter period and is able to provide the best possible care for patients.”

People’s Assembly national secretary Sam Fairbairn urged people to mobilise in defence of the NHS ahead of a major national demonstration on Saturday March 4.

He said: “As we are seeing crisis after crisis it is clearer than ever that the Tories want to destroy the NHS. We need a mass movement to topple them.”

The #OurNHS Rally will gather at 12pm at Tavistock Square, central London, before marching to Parliament Square.