ITV News inside A&E: Doctors 'scared' by thought of busy winter months

Allegra Stratton

Former National Editor

"It's scary, it's scary."

These are the words of the senior doctor running A&E at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading as it gears up to deal with the winter months. "It is busy, it is going to get busier," he says.

ITV News spent the day at the hospital looking at the lengths it is going to prepare for the winter ahead.

In an astonishingly frank interview, the lead A&E consultant, Omar Mafousi, speaks for hospitals and doctors around the country when he tells us that he fears current staffing and funding levels are damaging patient care.

"We can't give [patients] the care that we want," he told us. "Because we don't have the resources to look after patients in corridors".

We followed staff as they cared for the roughly 90 people who arrived at A&E that day. It's the beginning of six months spent following the hospital as it prepares for, and then deals with, the winter months.

Many of the hospital's problems stem from the some 25 elderly patients they are looking after who are deemed well enough to leave hospital but who remain, because the local authority has not yet put in place their care in the community. If they were able to free up these beds, the hospital would have more space for patients coming through the front door at A&E.

The NHS England boss Simon Stevens has said it needs around £4 billion next year alone, otherwise patient care will suffer. "2018, which happens to be the 70th anniversary of the NHS, is poised to be the toughest financial year," Stevens said in a recent speech.

On Sunday, the Chancellor poured scorn on calls by NHS executives for more funding.

  • Watch Allegra Stratton's full report

But now ITV News can show the reality of care on the ground.

Staff work tirelessly to ensure beds are freed up throughout the hospital to allow fresh patients to be admitted at A&E. We spent time with the bed manager, who goes around the hospital trying to find beds as they free up, so she can move people out of A&E, make some space and fresh people can come in.

Staff also have plans in place to deal with the increase in patient numbers they see in the winter months.

But their interviews are frank and damning as they called on the government for more resources ahead of the Budget on Wednesday.

The boss of NHS England has said that he would like £4bn just for the service to stand still and the situation is exactly the same around the country - in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

All of the services are under pressure struggling to do what they do rightnow with fewer and fewer resources and staff.