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One doctor for a thousand miles – 60,000 nurses axed as firms cash in – patient dies on a hospital trolley: the truth about the NHS under Cameron

Issue No. 2306

A patient died of a heart attack in a hospital corridor after waiting more than two hours for emergency treatment, it has emerged.

Ambulance paramedics brought the unidentified patient to the James Cook University Hospital, part of the South Tees Hospitals Trust, in Middlesbrough.

But long queues meant they were unable to hand the patient over to A&E staff. After two hours and 20 minutes waiting on a trolley, the patient suffered a heart attack and died.

The tragedy came as the trust tried to make £22 million of “savings” over the last year.

A third of heart attacks in hospitals could be prevented if early signs are acted upon.

But the proportion of patients waiting lengthy periods for treatment has increased by more than a quarter in the last year.

The Patients Association is worried that patients waiting for care on trolleys is “becoming a common occurrence across the country”.

It’s a chilling glimpse at the reality of the NHS under the Tories, as one ambulance worker told Socialist Worker.

“We regularly have to wait in corridors with patients because there is physically nowhere to put them in A&E,” they said.

“It’s not about NHS bureaucracy—it’s simply about lack of resources.


“And now they’re rolling out plans to close A&E departments across the country.”

A memo to London Ambulance Service workers in February gives an idea of the scale of the problem.

The number of patients who took over an hour to hand over had gone up four times in just a year—and this “masks many more that are less, but in excess of the target of 15 minutes”.

In response ambulance crews were encouraged to instigate “Service-led diverts” away from hospitals with delays.

This is a procedure that was put in place for emergencies.

But it is becoming routine as a result on the pressure on the NHS.

More than £20 billion is set to be cut from the NHS, and the Royal College of Nursing expects 60,000 jobs to go. But vultures are cashing in.

Private company Serco is poised to win a new wave of NHS contracts.

But the out-of-hours GP service it ran in Cornwall has been slammed by NHS watchdogs as “unsafe”. It frequently kept patients waiting because of lack of staff.

And for eight hours one night in May it had only one doctor on duty for the county’s 1,000 square miles.

The Tories say cuts and privatisation are necessary to make the NHS “inefficient”.

But all we have to show for it are deaths and delays.

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Article information

Tue 5 Jun 2012, 17:15 BST
Issue No. 2306
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