Nurse at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow tells A&E patients they face '13-hour wait'

  • A video of a nurse telling patients they face a wait of up to 13 hours has once again highlighted NHS pressures.

The health secretary has admitted the NHS is under huge pressure after being shown a video circulating of a nurse warning patients they faced a 13-hour wait to see an A&E doctor.

The clip, filmed on Monday evening at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow in Essex, shows a nurse telling a packed waiting room that there are no more ward beds left and urging relatives to leave their loved ones to create space.

After being shown the video on BBC Breakfast, Sajid Javid said it was “not what anyone wants to see”, and that the NHS was experiencing “very high levels of demand” in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The nurse was filmed addressing people waiting in the department on Monday evening, saying: “We’ve currently got 170 patients in the department, there are 90 patients waiting to be seen at the moment.

“Our current wait time for a doctor is seven-and-a-half hours."

She adds: “I will estimate by the time I go home in the morning at 8 o‘clock some of you will still be here waiting for a doctor because the waits will get up to 12 or 13 hours.

“There are currently no beds in the trust. We’re trying to make more space if we can but if people are admitted there’s a chance they’ll stay in A&E overnight.

“We will do our best to make you comfortable, we will do our best to look after you, but please don’t expect you will be going direct to a ward because that might not happen.”

She also asked relatives to leave due to space constraints.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid. Credit: PA

After listening to the clip on BBC Breakfast, Mr Javid said: “Of course that’s not a thing that anyone wants to see.”

He added: “Because of the impact of Covid… we know already from our NHS estimates, we think some 11 to 13 million people stayed away from the NHS because of the pandemic.

“Many of those people are coming forward, many of those to A&E, and we’re seeing very high levels of demand. That is a real challenge for the NHS across the system.

“What we’re doing about it is investing record amounts including in ambulance trusts, the 111 calling service that now have more call handlers than ever before, we put in just last year additional emergency £400m for A&E facilities across the country.

“So I think the NHS is doing everything it possible can be doing. The waiting times are improving but it’s not what anyone wants to see, those kind of waits.”

Stephanie Lawton, chief operating officer at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We are currently experiencing extremely high demand for our emergency care services and have seen a significant increase in attendances in our emergency department.

“Our teams are working hard to assess and treat patients as quickly and effectively as possible to reduce delays, prioritising those in most clinical need.

“The public can help us to ease pressures by using the NHS 111 service for healthcare advice in non-urgent cases. As ever, please continue to call 999 or attend the emergency department for urgent and life-threatening emergencies.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know