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David Cameron’s A&E crisis pushes East Midlands hospitals to the limit

New information published today shows how David Cameron’s NHS crisis has forced hospitals to cancel planned operations, declare major incidents and place themselves on black alert.

Number of hospitals experiencing ‘serious operational problems’ doubles in a year

  • Kettering General, Northampton General and University Hospitals of Leicester were affected so badly they experienced a major, internal or significant incident
  • Hospitals warn of “dire situation” as they cope with “severe staffing shortages” and “unprecedented demand”.
  • Labour will rescue the NHS with a £2.5 billion Time to Care Fund, to ensure 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs, and we will guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours 

Details of ‘serious operational problems’ were supplied to Labour through Freedom of Information requests and they show A&E departments and hospitals under “extreme” and “significant sustained” pressures. 

In total 71 hospital trusts – 46% of those in England – experienced operational problems on at least one day over the winter months. The responses show the true impact that David Cameron’s NHS crisis is having on patients and the NHS. 

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust experienced an operational problem on 12 occasions. Kettering experienced an operational problem on 6 occasions, including two significant incidents. Northampton General Hospital experiences an operational problem on 13 occasions including severe capacity constraints. 

In some cases, hospitals were under so much pressure that they requested support from others – but those hospitals were unable to support them because of their own operational problems. 

  • South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust requested support from 5 hospitals but none were able to help “requested a number of diverts to Gateshead, Sunderland, Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham but none were accepted.” Gateshead was unable to support other hospitals because of its “own dire situation.” 

Other Trusts reported “severe staffing difficulties” and were struggling with “unprecedented demand”. 

  • For example, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust experienced an operational problem on 14 occasions noting “significant shortfall in nurse staffing which has been exacerbated by the additional capacity requirements.” 

The situation was so bad at one Trust that its mortuary ran out of space. 

  • Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS trust reported the “local emergency care system under significant, sustained pressure” and that the mortuary “was at capacity”.

The reports come as official NHS figures show that the number of people waiting longer than four hours in A&E reached 1.3 million over the last 12 months – almost four times the number in 2009/10. Similarly, the number of people kept waiting on trolleys for longer than four hours because they can’t be admitted immediately after visiting A&E has quadrupled from 61,969 in 2009/10 to 295,956 in 2014/15.

Since David Cameron became Prime Minister 81,247 people have waited longer than four-hours in A&E at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, 34,406 at Northampton General Hospital Trust and 27,225 at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Labour's plans for a Time To Care Fund for our NHS would mean 1,600 more nurses in The East Midlands and 600 more GPs in The East Midlands.

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