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Hospitals routinely close A&E departments to ambulances, says report

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A row has broken out over reports that hospitals in the West Midlands have routinely closed A&E departments to ambulances.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, documents disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act show the chairman of the West Midlands ambulance service warned patients were being put at risk by the practice.

The newspaper reported there were 7,600 delays in October 2008, when the letters were sent by Sir Graham Meldrum, of West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

Hospitals in the West Midlands closed their doors to all ambulances on 472 occasions over a six-month period, the report added.

Mike Penning, shadow health minister said: ‘Labour’s tick-box target culture is forcing staff to prioritise hitting the 4 hour A&E target ahead of getting patients the treatment that they need. 

‘That means that many hospitals are being forced to close their doors to patients, often leaving them waiting outside, so that they don’t count as being ‘admitted’ and therefore they do not miss the targets set by bureaucrats in London.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The alternative to closing A&E depts. when capacity is reached is not to close them. This then brings us to the problem of where to "place" patients if the emergency room is full. The corridor springs to mind, but wait, haven't we been there?, and if you look around, this still happens all too often. I recently had two elderly patients shipped in to my day room at 9.15pm while they waited for ambulance transport to transfer them to another hospital. These two patients had each been in A&E on a hard trolley for over 12 hours, uncared for. The lady had been incontinent of faeces and the man required a dressing to his hand, a urinalysis and a prescription for antibiotics. All of this should have been carried out in the A&E dept. I suspect though because these patients were elderly and could not fend for themselves they were selectively neglected. Senior managers on duty at the time were fully aware of this situation. One of them came to my ward and told me that because A&E was full to capacity, my manager had aggreed the transfer of these patients, but on speaking to my manager the following day she knew nothing of the incident. So, is it better to close when full or keep admitting and neglect patients usually the elderly, you know, the people who once made the ultimate sacrifice to give us our "today".
    If A@E depts. are not running efficiently then this should be addressed. Oh, and by the way, Mrs. Thatcher with Kenneth Clarke and co. introduced the Targets system along with tiers of managers that originate from the worlds of commerce and finance. They are by definition, ruthless uncaring people who are less than honest.
    Like the CUCKOO, they have pushed out the decent caring vocational managers and they are just in it for what they can get.

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