If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume you’re happy to receive all cookies from the BMA website. Find out more about cookies
When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.
Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.
These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms.
You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.
These cookies are required
These cookies allow us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information we collect is anonymous unless you actively provide personal information to us.
If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.
These cookies allow a website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you're in) and tailor the website to provide enhanced features and content for you.
For example, they can be used to remember certain log-in details, changes you've made to text size, font and other parts of pages that you can customise. They may also be used to provide services you've asked for such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. These cookies may be used to ensure that all our services and communications are relevant to you. The information these cookies collect cannot track your browsing activity on other websites.
Without these cookies, a website cannot remember choices you've previously made or personalise your browsing experience meaning you would have to reset these for every visit. In addition, some functionality may not be available if this category is switched off.
Our websites sometimes integrate with other companies’ sites. For example, we integrate with social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, to make it easier for you to share what you have read. These sites place their own cookies on your browser as a result of us including their icons and ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons on our sites.
It was the final day of the rotation and I was looking forward to moving on. It had been a difficult six months – full of cancelled lists, covering clinics for absent colleagues and being beleaguered by overworked consultants. The service was constantly stretched, with the elective wards often choked with emergency admissions. A few weeks earlier, I had been shocked to overhear one of the senior nurses describing how she had been asked to identify any patients that might be nursed in a corridor overnight. By this point, it had become routine to finish the ward round in A&E, where patients admitted who could not be allocated a ward bed had spent the night on an uncomfortable trolley.
On my final day, I was rostered to cover the emergency theatre, so arrived early for the ward round. As I walked onto the ward, the nurse practitioner covering the ward commented that she had never seen the hospital so busy. We started the round in a 4 bedded bay, where I was shocked to see that the beds had simply been pushed along the wall to squeeze an A&E trolley into the corner of the room. There seemed to be no consideration of the fact that the emergency equipment on the wall was no longer accessible for most of the patients or that their close proximity was a far larger infection control risk than the watch I had forgotten to remove from my wrist.
When we moved into the next bay, normally reserved for six beds, a greater shock awaited us. An A&E trolley had simply been plonked in the middle of the room with a hapless patient writhing in pain atop it. The poor patient, who had suffered a shoulder injury, lay in full sight of every other patient in the room and any passers-by in the corridor. There was no curtain or barrier that could be used to provide even a modicum of decency. We were forced to examine her in full view of the rest of the bay - a breach of her privacy which made me feel very uncomfortable.
Surely a ‘first world’ healthcare system such as the NHS should allow us to preserve patient dignity at the very least?
I still think about the indignity that patient with a shoulder injury had to suffer, a casualty of ever rising demand and limited resources. We are beginning to see our beloved NHS crack at the seams. I hope we will not be left to say ‘I told you so’ when it all falls apart.
The author of this blog wishes to remain anonymous
Read more about NHS hospital bed pressures