Tonight: A&E in Meltdown?

Tonight: A&E in Meltdown? ITV at 7.30pm Credit: ITV / Tonight

Watchdogs have concerns about safety at two thirds of England’s A&E departments, according to the latest Tonight programme.

Despite the best efforts of staff, the performance of A&Es is now as bad as it ever has been.

And a report by the Care Quality Commission confirms that overcrowding is leaving patient safety compromised.

Reporter Fiona Foster interviews Dr Taj Hassan the President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine who tells the programme:

Our recent statistics show that anywhere from five hundred to a thousand patients per year are dying because unfortunately our departments are ever more crowded.“

Dr Taj Hassan

Chris Hopson of NHS Providers runs the body that represents most of the hospital and ambulance chiefs around the country. He says:

Chris Hopson with Fiona Foster Credit: ITV / Tonight

We are running our hospitals at ninety five, ninety eighty, ninety nine percent capacity. So when you get a surge in demand that overloads the system. You have to be careful about saying that the NHS is suddenly going to fall off the edge of a cliff because it never does. What I think we tend to see is a long slow deterioration.”

Chris Hopson, NHS Providers

The NHS is short of 2,000 emergency doctors, according to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

And experts estimate that up to a third of A&E patients could be better treated elsewhere.

An ambulance passes by protestors unhappy about the closure of Chorley A&E Credit: ITV / Tonight

We meet an A&E patient, Jake, who explains that he rang half a dozen dentists about his toothache before arriving in casualty.

It is very frustrating because this is accident and emergency. The clue is in the word that we are here to treat emergency patients. For minor ailments, minor illnesses, they should be able to access their local GP surgery, their local walk in centres, even the pharmacists can help.”

Emergency Consultant, Kazim Mirza
Major trauma in Bristol. But many visitors to A&E do not require immediate urgent care Credit: ITV / Tonight

A&E in Meltdown? is on ITV on Thursday 13 October at 7.30pm and on The ITV Hub shortly afterwards.

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Useful links:

  • If you’re unsure of when you should use your A&E then visit the Why A&E? website

  • If you are unsure where your nearest GP surgery is you can check here

  • Click here for more details about the NHS 111 service