Patients forced to wait on trolleys in 'overcrowded' Derriford Hospital emergency department

Derriford Hospital's emergency department can be cramped and overcrowded, inspectors found. Credit: Plymouth Live

Bosses at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth say they are working hard to reduce overcrowding in the Emergency Department.

Inspectors found that 393 patients attended on a single day last month, some of whom were forced to wait on trolleys in cramped conditions due to a lack of beds.

A spokesman for the health trust said work is due to start next year on a new emergency care hub and there are also plans to bring in extra staff.


patients in the emergency department on a single day in April


regular number of attendees per day in recent months

We saw some positive practice: patients’ needs were being assessed well and there was a good culture throughout the service. Leaders of the service were motivated and committed to improve patient care and positive steps had been taken to protect children. However, we have some concerns regarding poor patient flow through the hospital and triage processes taking too long. Work was being done to address these issues and CQC will continue to monitor the trust closely.

Mary Cridge, Care Quality Commission

The CQC inspectors said there were not enough available beds in the hospital to allow emergency patients to be admitted to a ward as soon as this was required, resulting in a crowded emergency department with patients receiving care and treatment in unsuitable environments.

Our emergency department was originally built for a maximum of 240 people attending every day. The average attendance across the last year has risen, with regular attendances of more than 300 people per day. We had 393 patients one day last month. This results in cramped facilities and sometimes overcrowding. We know this and are working to address it, both in terms of flow through the hospital and space within emergency. In December 2018, we were awarded £30million to develop a new fit-for-purpose urgent and emergency care hub and work is expected to start in 2020. We are doing everything we can to try to reduce crowding in the meantime, having also invested in a large acute assessment unit which regularly sees 60 patients every day; with around 29 of these referred direct from the main emergency department. We have also invested in additional staffing.

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust spokesman