Scenes in overcrowded A&E ‘not what anyone wants to see’ – Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid was played a clip of a nurse speaking to the crowd of people in Harlow A&E, run by Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust in Essex.

08 June 2022

Patients being told they might have to wait for up to 13 hours to see a doctor in an overcrowded A&E department is “not what anyone wants to see”, the Health Secretary has said.

Sajid Javid was played a clip of a nurse speaking to the crowd of people in Harlow A&E, run by Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust in Essex.

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.

“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.

Mr Javid said the NHS is seeing “very high levels of demand” in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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 £400 million 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.”

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