1. ITV Report

Major disaster doctor deployed to treat patients in A&E corridor

The West Midlands Ambulance Service had to deploy a senior consultant doctor - usually only used during medical incidents in hospitals – last Friday at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, as it couldn’t accept a number of patients into it’s A&E department.

Ambulance staff had to treat 434 patients in the corridor at the hospital in February Credit: ITV News Central

The ‘medical incident doctor’ had to oversee the treatment of seven patients in corridors at the hospital, as well as treating another in an ambulance outside.

The service says it was forced to deploy the consultant after the patient refusals, with many of those who weren’t being treated having to wait in considerable pain.

The Trust had repeatedly asked clinical staff within the emergency department to triage the patients so that the most serious could be given pain relief or taken to wards to receive appropriate care. This was refused on a number of occasions.

WMAS had to deploy a major disaster doctor for the hospital Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The ambulance service says this incident severely impacted on it’s ability to attend emergency calls across Worcestershire.

The service also says the increase in the number of patients being taken to A&E at the hospital has been on the increase – but not steadily, with the hospital changing the way it accepted patients in October last year.

In February 2015 alone, the West Midlands Ambulance Service had to look after 434 patients in the corridor at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, accounting for 687 hours of ambulance time that could have been used helping patients in the community.

The service says it’s raised concerns with the Care Quality Commission, and has insisted that the hospital formally record last Friday as a ‘Serious Incident’, and that a full investigation is carried out by the Trust that runs the hospital.

WMAS understands that Worcestershire Royal Hospital and it’s staff are working exceptionally hard, however, at a recent risk summit it was agreed that WMAS should not have to look after patients in the corridor and that the hospital would flex it’s staff to ensure a rapid handover is achieved so that ambulance crews can then be dispatched to those patients still in the community.

– WMAS statement

The Trust has apologised for distress caused to patients and their families.

Both the hospital and ambulance service are working under extreme pressures at the moment, due to a number of external factors. Regretfully these pressures have meant some patients being treated in less than ideal conditions and we accept this is not good enough and are working very hard to put this right. We are sorry for any distress caused to patients and their families. We now need to work together with the ambulance service and other partners to sort the situation out as soon as possible. We can confirm that on Friday, April 10th West Midlands Ambulance paramedics were asked to look after a number of patients in the corridor before they could be transferred into the care of the A&E staff. Whilst the A&E department were unable to allow the ambulance staff to handover the patients, the A&E staff were aware of their conditions and we wish to assure people that no patients came to any harm.

– Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust