A&E consultant tells ITV News: 'Patients being left with absolutely no dignity'

A leading medical consultant has warned patients in A&Es are being left with "absolutely no dignity" because of consecutive cuts to social care.

The consultant said he would feel "absolutely horrified" if a relative was treated at his A&E, saying that cuts over the last six years have left his department "overwhelmed."

Speaking under anonymity to ITV News out of fear of reprisals, he said A&Es were suffering from a chronic shortage of beds and staff that had created "unsustainable pressure."

His comments came just days after the Red Cross described the NHS as being in a state of "humanitarian crisis".

And he described claims by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that patients not requiring A&E treatment were clogging up departments as "farcical".

He claims:

  • Patients are stuck on chairs instead of beds

  • Patients are being kept "in every place possible" in A&Es

  • A&Es lack curtains and dividers for patient privacy

  • Patients are left incontinent because staff can't reach them in time

  • Working conditions in his A&E are degrading and dangerous

Working in one of Britain's largest cities, the consultant said conditions in his A&E had become dangerous and degrading.

But he insisted the reason was down to cuts to social care over the past six years, rather than patients not needing to be in A&E.

He said his department had been left so overwhelmed with admissions that there was no dignity left for patients.

88,252

12-hour waits in A&E for those aged 70 and over in 2015/2016

185,017

12-hour waits in A&E for all age groups in 2015/2016

"We have patients pretty much anywhere that you can have a patient in our emergency department," he said.

"We have got patients with severe illnesses on chairs receiving drips, antibiotics, medications, and patients with cardiac problems on chairs because there are no trolleys for them to go on to."

He added: "Patients have absolutely no dignity left."

Jeremy Hunt denied the NHS was in a state of 'humanitarian crisis' Credit: HOC

Inadequate numbers of shutters and blinds between patients meant they were often left in full view of others while being treated, he said.

In other instances, patients were left unable to move off their trolleys, stuck on chairs and others remaining incontinent in front of relatives and strangers because staff could not reach them in time.

"You just feel awful. Nobody wants to work in that kind of environment. That's not what we want for any of our patients," he said.

"If this was my relative I'd feel absolutely horrified."

37%

Number of people going to A&E discharged with no follow-up needed

20%

Number of people in A&E discharged to their GP

On Monday, Hunt admitted there was an "unprecedented demand" on the health service, with admissions to some A&Es up 30% on last year.

He denied the NHS was facing a humanitarian crisis, saying "very serious problems" had been limited to "one or two hospitals".