At the start of 2018 the JRII and Horton hospitals declared 'Back Alert' the highest state of alert in the NHS - signalling an inablity to admit seriously ill patients because all beds were full. This pattern was repeated across the country in a further 21 hospitals. Reports came in from across the UK of ambulances queued up outsdie hospitals unable to have patients admitted for 30 minutes or longer (the BC reported 76,000 people forced to wait in ambulances.)
Coridors in A&E departments have been packed with patients on trollies and patients have reported to have died for delays in treatment.
The winter surge in admissions was entirely predictable and avoidable. health campaigners and professsionals have been sounding the alarm since the last winter crisis. Action was needed to ensure there are enough beds and staff to cope with aniticpated demand. Instead the predictable winter surge has been transformed into a crisis with our NHS thrown into chaos by unrelenting government cuts and privatisation.
Hospitals have barely managed to keep functioning in spite of the unprecedented emergency action of the cancelling of 50,000 operations, leaving many people in pain with debilitating illnesses. The cancellation of operations will extend the crisis long into the new year.
Hunt and May's apologies are not an acceptable or adequate response to the chaos their policies have created. They should resign and be replaced wioth a government that is committed to giving the NHS the huge injection of funds required to re-open closed beds and recruit staff to cope with demand.