HEALTH professionals have warned that the NHS is “at breaking point” after two junior doctors were left to care for more than 400 patients at a Plymouth hospital on a night shift.
The warning came from doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) after concerns over staffing at the Derriford Hospital were raised by one of the doctors, who said the incident was a “very unsafe shift from the patient perspective.”
In the report to Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust the doctor said: “Told on the phone that the deputy medical director had talked to my consultant and said I must do this, as there would otherwise only be a single SHO [senior house officer] looking after all of the medical patients in the hospital.
“Between myself and the other SHO on ward cover we were responsible for the care of 436 patients between the two of us while carrying the crash bleep [emergency alert] which covers the whole hospital.”
Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust said the paper detailed what it referred to as “exception reporting,” meaning such situations were not the norm.
BMA junior doctor committee chair Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya said: “These reports highlight the extreme staffing shortages which are occurring in hospitals across the country.
“While the incidents documented in these reports are shocking, they are all too familiar for many working in the NHS. These reports show an NHS that is at breaking point.
“The government has to take responsibility for a health system under such unsustainable pressure, as only ministers have the ultimate power to address the workforce and funding crisis undermining the delivery of safe care and a safe work environment for NHS staff.”