Patient dies after search for bed

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The Independent Online

Labour yesterday demanded a government inquiry into the case of a 65- year-old heart attack victim who died after at least 10 hospitals were unable to find him an intensive care bed.

The man died on Tuesday at Scarborough Hospital, North Yorkshire, after staff 80 miles away at Bradford Royal Infirmary, where he was admitted after collapsing in a doctor's surgery, struggled for nearly three hours to find him a bed.

A spare bed was found eventually in Scarborough and he was airlifted to hospital there. But the man died 20 minutes after being admitted.

The tragedy highlighted bed shortages as 35 patients were left waiting on trolleys in a corridor of the accident and emergency department of Fazakerley Hospital in Liverpool. One patient waited for 22 hours with chest pains.

A huge upsurge in illness, blamed largely on the recent harsh weather conditions, has led to a beds shortage in north-west England. Hospital staff falling victim to the flu epidemic have added to the pressure.

Fazakerley has joined Wirral's Arrowe Park Hospital in postponing non- urgent operations, and 100 extra beds are being opened at four hospitals in the region to help ease the log-jam. The ambulance service was told to take only 999 cases to the hospital and take less urgent cases to other hospitals.

Peter Bousfield, medical director of Aintree Hospitals Trust, which runs Fazakerley, said: "Nationally the system is gridlocked. We need beds, doctors and nurses and there is a shortage of those across the board. We have to manage hospitals in a different way now. But the rate of change has been too quick and we are left with a major crisis."

t Disgraced health managers who should have been fired for incompetence are still running some of Britain's hospitals, the Select Committee for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration said yesterday.