Patients were reported to have had to sleep overnight in the A&E unit of a hospital in the North East due to a shortage of beds.
A leaked memo reveals that this happened at Sunderland’s Royal Hospital, reports The Guardian.
Last Friday, in a message sent to local medical doctors entitled “significant surge within confidence,” hospital leaders said, “Pressure on bed capacity has increased over the past two or three days, which is having a serious impact on trust.
“Fifty other beds are used, 40 of hospitalization in different wards and 20 patients blocked in ED [the emergency department] as no beds are available, which means that some patients have to sleep overnight in ED.
“There have been some cancellations of elective activity [operations] and other consultants have been inducted into ED to help manage demand. It would be highly appreciated if I could refer patients to ED only if all other possible solutions had been exhausted. “
According to the Guardian, the hospital is looking to buy places in local nursing homes as another way to free the beds.
Those who slept overnight in the unit were reported to have been patients that doctors had agreed to admit as medical emergencies but for whom hospital staff had been unable to find a bed.
Angela Wadmore, director of the emergency and emergency care division at the foundation of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS, who runs the hospital, said: “Over the past week, we have seen a sharp increase in seriously ill people in need of emergency hospitalization.
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“Because we manage these pressures safely, it may sometimes not be possible to place patients in an appropriate hospital bed as quickly as possible, resulting in some patients having to spend more time in our emergency room.
“When this happens, patients are treated with compassion and safely followed by our excellent emergency room staff, each within their own dedicated room to ensure patient confidentiality and dignity.
“As soon as a hospital bed becomes available, patients are safely transferred to another part of the hospital.”