Patient Care At Risk Because Of Hospital Overcrowding

With Christmas just a few days away, a new report from NHS England has found that almost 95 per cent of beds in hospitals around the country are now occupied, with anything above 85 per cent considered to be unsafe.

According to the BBC, patient care is now being compromised because of overcrowding of our hospitals, with some admitting that they have to turn ambulances away because they’re simply unable to accept more patients.

NHS England’s first weekly winter report shows that eight A&Es have diverted ambulances elsewhere because of being so busy, and even when ambulances are able to drop patients off at hospital, significant numbers are facing delays.

It is now over a year since any part of the UK has succeeded in hitting one of its three key targets for cancer care, A&E waits and hospital operations. And unfortunately, further funding from the government announced this summer will not hit the front line until 2019.

An NHS England representative explained: “As the colder weather begins to set in, it’s vital that the NHS and local authorities continue to work together to help people stay well and out of hospital wherever possible.

“The public can also help NHS staff by making sure they have their free flu jab if eligible and by using NHS 111 as their first port of call for non-emergencies.”

A report published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences last year, carried out by a team from the University of Technology Sydney, the Health Management and Economics Research Centre at the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran, looked into how overcrowding in emergency departments could be decreased in the future.

It was noted that hospital overcrowding is indeed a complex issue and the quality of service in emergency departments will depend on coordinated efforts between on-call specialists, emergency doctors and nurses, other health professionals, in-patient units, and laboratory and diagnostic imaging services.

There are, however, many components that are controlled by stakeholders outside the emergency room and their priority may not be to optimise patient care in this part of the hospital. As such, emergency departments may find restricted access to beds, poor communication with other departments and so on.

Leaders of emergency departments were therefore advised to focus on discussion meetings with internal and external stakeholders, institutional executive and public policymakers in order to bring in initiatives to ease overcrowding in hospitals.

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