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Nurses declare NHS ‘national emergency’ as patients die in hospital corridors

NURSES have declared a “national emergency” in the NHS, warning that patients are dying in hospital corridors — and have demanded the next government take urgent action.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has painted a nightmare picture of hospital patients dying on stretchers and being treated sitting on chairs in hospital corridors.

The nursing union reveals that patients are being treated in car parks, left with no access to oxygen and are enduring intimate examinations in inappropriate crowded areas.

Presenting a damning report on conditions in the NHS, the RCN’s acting general secretary Professor Nicola Ranger is declaring a “national emergency” amid a “desperate need for more funding.”

The union is releasing its findings, following more than a decade of chronic underfunding by the government, at its annual conference today at Newport in south Wales.

Prof Ranger’s report tells delegates: “Our once world-leading services are treating patients in car parks and store cupboards.

“The elderly are languishing on chairs for hours on end, and patients are dying in corridors. 

“The horror of this situation cannot be understated. It is a national emergency for patient safety and today we are raising the alarm.

“Care being delivered in front of a fire exit isn’t care. Signing ‘Do not resuscitate’ orders in a corridor isn’t care.

“Receiving a cancer diagnosis in a public area isn’t care. It’s a nightmare for all involved. 

“We need to call it out as nursing staff, and health leaders and ministers need to take responsibility.”

Campaign group Keep Our NHS Public said delays in accident & emergency were causing 300 avoidable deaths per week and is a “clear indication” of the crisis.

KONP co-chairman John Puntis said: “The impact on families and relatives is immense, while the moral injury to staff has been linked to stress resulting in severe mental health conditions.

“Worse still is the refusal by government to recognise the problem, hiding behind the claim of ‘record funding’ rather than investing in rebuilding the NHS and ensuring the capacity to provide safe and timely care for everyone.”

Tory election pledges to increase health services in the community, including through general practitioners, were dismissed by RCN executive director for England, Patricia Marquis.

“The desperate need to invest more in primary and community health services has been apparent for years and this announcement doesn’t go nearly far enough,” she said.

“Primary and community health services have long suffered from inadequate funding, something that has serious knock-on consequences for hospitals and impacts patients across all settings.”

She said almost half GP staff received no pay rise last year, despite government promises.

“No new initiative will achieve anything until there is investment in the nursing workforce, including fair pay, to stem the tide of those leaving the profession. 

“Only then can we ensure patients across primary, community and hospital settings get the care they deserve.”

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers representing hospital trusts, said: “These findings reflect the severe pressures facing the NHS, including high demand, lack of bed capacity and delayed hospital discharge

“No trust leader wants to treat patients in corridors, store cupboards or other non-clinical areas as it compromises quality of care, patient privacy and dignity.”

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “NHS nurses are sounding the alarm on the appalling state of the NHS after 14 years of Conservative neglect.

“Patients and staff alike can see that the NHS is broken. 

“Only Rishi Sunak and his party won’t acknowledge that the crisis in the NHS is a national emergency, and if they can’t diagnose the illness then how can they be trusted to cure it.”

But Labour’s own plans to cut NHS waiting lists have also been criticised by doctors, including the BMA, of not going far enough.

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