Top A&E doctors tell Theresa May patients are dying in NHS corridors as winter crisis deepens
Dozens of top A&E doctors have warned Theresa May that patients are dying in hospital corridors as winter pressures make conditions in NHS hospitals “intolerable”.
The 68 senior doctors signed a letter delivered to No 10 as official figures revealed A&E wards in England missed their waiting time targets by the biggest margin on record.
And they said the Government's efforts to deal with the winter crisis was failing - despite the Prime Minister claiming the NHS was better prepared for the annual spike in demand than ever before.
More than 300,000 patients were left waiting more than four hours in December. Just 85% were seen within four hours - a whole 10 percentage points below the 95% target.
Labour highlighted official dats showing there had been a 400% increase in trolley waits and a 234% rise in patients waiting longer than four hours in A&E since the Tories came to power.
The doctors' letter to the Prime Minister said patients are having to sleep in makeshift wards, with many waiting 12 hours or more on trolleys and thousands stuck in the back of ambulances due to a lack of available beds.
“Some of our own personal experiences range from over 120 patients a day managed in corridors, some dying prematurely,” they said.
And they added: “It has been stated that the NHS was better prepared for this winter than ever before.
“There is no question that a huge amount of effort and energy has been spent both locally and nationally on drawing up plans for coping with NHS winter pressures.
“Our experience at the front line is that these plans have failed to deliver anywhere near what was needed.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth told PoliticsHome: “This damning message from frontline clinicians could not be any clearer.
"Patient care is acutely suffering because of this Government’s chronic underfunding of our NHS which has left 92,000 patients languishing in the back of ambulances and staff vacancies of over 100,000.
"How many more unprecedented warnings do we need to hear before Theresa May finally provides the NHS with the funding it needs?"
Meanwhile, hospital bosses today called on Jeremy Hunt to increase funding to the NHS in order to end the winter crisis.
NHS Providers - the body that represents hospitals and other trusts - warned that the service had reached a “watershed moment” and required more cash to remain operational.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "We know there is a great deal of pressure in A&E departments and that flu rates are going up, and we are grateful to all NHS staff for their incredible work in challenging circumstances."