More than 200 patients wait to be seen in near record A&E numbers at London hospital

‘Frankly, the idea of going into winter in this state is terrifying,’ said one doctor at the trust

Shaun Lintern
Health Correspondent
Wednesday 06 October 2021 14:20
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<p>North Middlesex University Hospital has seen record levels of A&E attendances in recent months </p>

North Middlesex University Hospital has seen record levels of A&E attendances in recent months

More than 200 patients were crowded into a London hospital’s accident and emergency department earlier this week as doctors warn of their fears for the approaching winter.

Information seen by The Independent confirms North Middlesex Hospital in north London had 210 people waiting to be seen by staff at it’s A&E department on Monday afternoon – one of the highest ever numbers.

It came as bosses in Nottingham declared an alert over 143 patients waiting to be seen with some experiencing “unacceptably long waits”.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has warned crowding in A&E departments increases risks to patients and has been linked with increases in deaths.

In June, the North Middlesex University Hospital Trust declared an incident after it recorded 700 A&E attendances in a single day, a record high since January 2020, before the Covid crisis, when 684 patients attended in a single day.

Since then, the A&E department has recorded more than 700 patients attending on five separate days including Monday.

The trust said only 1 in 10 patients attending A&E are admitted to hospital with 26 per cent discharged and requiring no significant treatment.

Staff on the ground say having 210 patients all waiting to be seen at the same time is a serious risk to patient safety for those patients who are ill.

One doctor at the trust, who asked not to be named said: “The volume of patients we are seeing are astronomical. It's now regularly above 700 a day when previously a 'busy' average day would be 600.

They added: “It's impossible to function in an emergency department that has 30 plus patients waiting for beds - there is literally no space in which to see 'new' patients, so the queue keeps stacking up.”

“Frankly, the idea of going into winter in this state is terrifying.”

At a meeting of the trust board of directors in August, bosses heard the problem was linked to increasing referrals to A&E from NHS 111 as well as patients unable to see their GP.

A review across the North Central London region has been launched to try and get to the bottom of the problem.

The board was told one factor was the lack of local GPs with Enfield having only 3.5 GPs per 10,000 people compared with nearby Camden where there are more than twice as many GPs.

Before the Covid crisis, the A&E department was seeing only an average of between 550 and 600 people a day – still significantly more than the amount the unit was designed for.

Trust chief executive Dr Nnenna Osuji said: “Like many other hospitals around the country, North Mid is seeing significant demand for emergency care. Although attendances are high, we remain open and it’s important local people know they will get safe, high quality care if they do need to attend A&E.

“Our staff are working extremely hard, under sustained pressure, to keep people safe and give them the treatment they need, and I want to emphasise how proud I am of the whole North Mid team – from the clinicians in our A&E department to all the support services – for how they are responding to this unrelenting demand.

“When I visited our emergency department yesterday evening, it was calm, well-managed, and safe, and that’s testament to the continual hard work and compassion of our team.”

She urged the public to think carefully before attending A&E and calling NHS 111 first.

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