Patients 'treated in storerooms' as NHS pressure mounts

Patients are being treated in storerooms as pressure on NHS hospitals mount, leading nurses have warned.

Frail and elderly patients are also moved around in the middle of the night and ambulances are forced to queue outside A&E departments, the Royal College of Nursing said.

Things are so bad in some hospitals that they have no spare capacity at all.

A shortage of beds means some patients are being treated in storerooms. Credit: PA

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said: "Having once been the preserve of the worst weeks of winter, overwhelming pressure and major incidents have sadly become the new normal in our hospitals.

"Every ambulance kept waiting outside A&E can mean someone in need waiting for help.

"Every patient kept for hours on a trolley in A&E because there are no ward beds free, lengthens that queue to get through the door.

"Every late admission adds to the chaos, with patients having to be moved from ward to ward at night.

"Every delayed admission can mean that the patient deteriorates and requires more care in the long run.

"Sadly, this is a problem which perpetuates itself, with patients getting sicker and needing more care, then having to stay longer in hospital. It is time we had a serious look at how long hospitals can continue to function when they are consistently under-funded and under-staffed."

Some patients have died waiting in ambulance queues outside A&E. Credit: PA

I've been an emergency care nurse for 25 years, and the news is that the attrition rate of emergency nurses leaving emergency departments is at a level it has never ever been before.

Janet Youd, A&E nurse and chair of RCN emergency care association

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The NHS is busy, but performing well despite the additional pressures of our ageing population - with 1.6 million more operations taking place each year compared to 2010 and nine out of 10 people seen in A&E within four hours.

"Patient experience has also improved, with 85% of patients now reporting that their care and treatment was 'good' or better.

"Patient safety remains our priority and we are determined to make the NHS the safest and most transparent healthcare system in the world."

An NHS England spokesman added: "While it is true that the NHS remains under pressure, April's performance figures show frontline services beginning to recover from a challenging winter, with A&E performance nearly 3% higher.

"The number of patients waiting more than four hours fell by 50,000 and more than nine out of 10 patients are now being admitted, treated or discharged within the target time."