Patients are being asked to sleep in corridors to free up space in hospital, a shocking new report reveals.
As the NHS winter crisis worsens, doctors are now approaching the ‘least bad’ patients in a bid to get their bed.
Demand for beds is soaring due to the pressures of a social care crisis, immigration and an ageing population.
And this is causing over-stretched doctors to work under grave pressure to try and determine who is worthy of a bed.
The Royal College of Physicians said its document shows that GPs are facing ‘bed and staff shortages’ as well as a ‘lack of resources’.
They conducted an anonymous survey of 50 physicians to assess the true current working nature of the NHS.
Another of the doctors who spoke to the RCP said: ‘We have a policy to help each ward – not just the acute admissions wards, but each ward in the hospital – decide who is the “least bad” patient to approach to ask to sleep on a bed in the corridor.
‘We have a plan for which nurse takes responsibility for taking observations – they are recorded in “the corridor folder”.’This certainly qualifies under the “things I never expected to see in my lifetime” category.’
One doctor described how patients are dying because hospitals are ‘jam-full’.
Another says their hospital has three wards full of medically fit patients awaiting discharge, mostly to social care.
While one said a patient was waiting for so long to be transferred to social care that her family were bringing in Ikea furniture to make the hospital bed area ‘more homely’.
Members of the public should be made aware of ‘just how bad the current situation really is’, said another of the 50 senior physicians from across England. Professor Jane Dacre, president of the RCP, said: ‘I am so proud of our members for their commitment and grace under pressure, but it should not have to be like this.
‘We need the government to start listening, investing, and supporting the NHS to give patients the service they deserve.’
This comes after a damning report last week revealed that hospitals have axed 15,000 beds in just six years.A woman who died from a bleed on her brain after three hospitals refused to admit her for surgery could have been saved if she had been given a bed.
Mary Muldowney, 57, would have survived if she had been given immediate life-saving surgery, a coroner ruled.
In a damning verdict earlier this month, coroner Mary Hassell said that the lack of beds was irrelevant and she could have been treated immediately.
By doing this, it would have allowed hospital staff to find a spare space in the intensive care unit, she claimed.
The dramatic reduction – equivalent to closing 24 hospitals – amounts to a 10 per cent fall in NHS beds at a time when the health service is under unprecedented pressure.
There are now just 129,458 hospital beds available for patients at night, down from 144,455 in 2010/11.
Critics say patients’ safety is at risk and blame the cuts on an NHS obsession with shifting care out of hospitals and ‘closer to home’.The lack of beds means hospitals are having to cancel operations at the last minute – including cancer and heart surgery – or send patients home before they have properly recovered.
The British Medical Association also found that the NHS has fewer beds per heads than nearly every country in Europe.
The UK has an average of 2.4 beds per 1,000 population, compared to Germany (8), Austria (7.5) and France (6).
And it raises concerns over occupancy rates on wards. Hospitals are not meant to be more than 85 per cent occupied.
But the report highlighted figures showing that nine out of ten exceeded this over the winter.Several hospitals are 99 or even 100 per cent occupied with patients at much higher risk of infections and neglect.