Letter: How to prevent emergency patients being turned away

Share
Sir: The shortage of intensive care beds has been highlighted by the sad tales of cancelled major operations, turning away of precious donor organs and the shunting of a dying child across the Pennines (report, 6 March).

I was asked what would happen to 50 serious casualties from a bomb explosion on a bus outside our hospital. I am sure the staff would be galvanised into action and the "Dunkirk spirit" would suddenly appear. Extra beds would be put up, nurses with previous experience of critical care would step forward from different parts of the hospital and the word would get around to retired nurses at home in the area. Doctors would all pull together no matter their speciality and I expect the corps of administrators would drop their clipboards and help with bandages and the fetching of blood. Why can we not respond in a similar manner to small-scale emergencies?

I would suggest the following reasons: insufficient critical care beds; loss of highly-trained nurses due to the stress of continuous working in busy ICU wards; vested interest in maintaining boundaries around very highly specialised critical care units.

The first item requires money, but the other two need a change in nurse training, and, much more difficult, a shift in the attitude of some doctors and nurses. Critical care ranges from the very stressful intensive care of children, neurological cases and general medicine and surgery, to less demanding coronary care, recovery from routine surgery and high dependency. Usually each of the facilities is separate physically and even more so emotionally.

I propose the following: establish a multidisciplinary nurse training course covering all aspects of critical care; rotate nurses to the separate units to widen and maintain experience and interest and relieve stress; ensure that when the most appropriate unit is full, the patient will be looked after in one of the other units, with staff capable of moving temporarily; maintain the high-quality specialist skills in each unit with a core of experienced nurses and doctors.

These measures would ensure that the doors of major hospitals would remain open. Serious operations would not be cancelled at the last moment, vital organs desperately needed would not be turned away and dying patients would not be sent long distances in search of a special bed.

Professor Sir Roy Calne

Department of Surgery,

University of Cambridge

Clinical School,

Addenbrooke's Hospital,

Cambridge

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teacher

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of pay, Free CPD : Randstad Education So...

Credit Controller (Sales Ledger, SAGE)- London, Old Street

£12 per hour: Ashdown Group: Credit Controller - London, Old Street A well es...

Y4 Teacher - Leicester

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: We are currently recruiting ...

VMware Infrastructure Engineer - (VCP, VMware) - £45k, London

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Infrastructure Engineer, VMware (VCP, NetApp,...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

In Sickness and in Health: It’s been lonely in bed without my sleep soulmate

Rebecca Armstrong
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv  

Why do we stand by and watch Putin?

Ian Birrell
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor