British Red Cross called in to help NHS through ‘humanitarian crisis’

Posted On: 
7th January 2017

The British Red Cross has admitted it provided support to an under strain NHS as it struggles to cope with extra patients and dwindling resources.

Pressure of patient numbers caused a third of the 150 English hospital trusts to warn they needed urgent action to cope last month.
Credit: 
PA images

The charity said NHS ambulance and emergency services could not keep up with the increasing demand and this could compromise patient safety.

Red Cross chief executive Mike Adamson said: "We have been called in to support the NHS and help get people home from hospital and free up much-needed beds."

He went as far to say the NHS is facing a “humanitarian crisis” as they try to balance patient care with fewer resources.

The humanitarian charity, which provides healthcare for people in the throws of conflict, reiterated its call on the Government to allocated more funding for health and social care.

"For the Red Cross to brand the situation a 'humanitarian crisis' should be a badge of shame for Government ministers," he added.

Mr Adamson said the pressure on A&E was exacerbated​ by patients were not receiving enough care at home and would end up back in hospital as a result:

“No one chooses to stay in hospital unless they have to, but we see first-hand what happens when people are sent home without appropriate and adequate care.

“We’ve seen people sent home without clothes, some suffer falls and are not found for days, while others are not washed because there is no carer there to help them.

“If people don’t receive the care they need and deserve, they will simply end up returning to A&E, and the cycle begins again.”

The call comes after Worcestershire Royal hospital launched an investigation on Friday into the deaths of two patients died on trolleys.

It is believed one woman suffered a heart attack while waiting 35 hours for treatment.

A male patient is believed to have died from an aneurysm while being cared for on a trolley.

Dr Mark Holland, the president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “For a long time we have been saying that the NHS is on the edge. But people dying after long spells in hospital corridors shows that the NHS is now broken.

“We have got to the point where the efforts of staff to prop up the system are no longer enough to keep the system afloat. We are asking NHS staff to provide a world-class service, but with third world levels of staffing and third world levels of beds.

“That so many other hospitals in England are facing the same pressures as the one in Worcester means that other fatalities could occur. I would suggest that the same thing could happen in other hospitals, because lots of hospitals are under the same pressures.”

Hospital date from the Christmas and New Year period paints a gloomy picture.

Fifty of England’s 152 hospital trusts declared an alert, with all of Essex’s hospitals on the NHS’ highest warning – black alert.

Analysis from the Nuffield Trust think tank found some hospitals were forced to scale back the treatments they were able to offer to cope with patient numbers.

Dr Taj Hassan, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said figures it obtained from hospitals across the UK showed some were treating as little as 50%-60% of A&E patients within four hours, far below the 95% target.

“Figures cannot account for untold patient misery,” he said. “Overcrowded departments, overflowing with patients, can result in avoidable deaths.”

Hassan and Holland both blamed underfunding of the NHS and social care systems for contributing to hospitals becoming worryingly full