Intensive care beds crisis 440 emergency operations cancelled

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Youth join the march through Enfield Town on the day before the A&E at Chase Farm Hospital was closed last December
Youth join the march through Enfield Town on the day before the A&E at Chase Farm Hospital was closed last December

EMERGENCY operations are being cancelled putting hundreds of critically ill patients in danger as hospitals run out of intensive care beds, official figures have revealed.

Huge cuts to the NHS by the government have left hospitals dangerously short of intensive care beds.

An ‘urgent operation’ is defined as an operation that is necessary to save life, limb or a major organ.

In the past two months 440 urgent operations have been cancelled.

On one day last week, 50 hospitals ran short of intensive care beds.

This created an acute crisis where severely ill patients were either forced to travel hundreds of miles to get the operation they require, or had their operation cancelled and rescheduled.

Kathleen Carter, a member of Unison, working as a switchboard operator at Chase Farm Hospital, told News Line: ‘I know all about this because in the past we were dealing with people who have rung up the hospital over and over again because they want to know why their operations were cancelled.

‘Before they closed the A&E at Chase Farm patients would ring up the switchboard every single day. Patients get worried sick when their operations are cancelled.

‘If someone has been diagnosed with cancer or some life-threatening illness, that has to be dealt with immediately.

‘Now we have lost the A&E at Chase Farm Hospital, and the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and the HDU (High Dependency Unit) we are now not able to deal with emergency situations at all.

‘This means that all the emergency operations are referred to Barnet or North Middlesex hospitals. There is no way that they can cope, they have not got enough intensive care beds and we know that patients are being turned away.

‘That means they have to travel even further and wait even longer.

‘The unions must take action to bring the government down and stop the NHS cuts.

‘There needs to be more intensive care beds and the A&E at Chase Farm Hospital must be re-opened.’

Labour shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, said: ‘It is extremely worrying that, on a single day last week, there were no available beds for critically ill patients in many parts of the country.

‘This is a clear sign of a system in distress and a crisis in emergency care that is getting more serious by the day.’