999 crews told to stay away by hospital with bed-crisis
January 09 2015 08:58 PM

London Evening Standard/London


The A&E crisis deepened yesterday as Britain’s biggest NHS trust revealed that one of its hospitals ran out of beds and had asked ambulances to stay away.
It came as NHS England figures for the first days of 2015 showed more than 2,500 patients waited on trolleys for more than four hours to be admitted to London hospitals - including 33 who waited more than 12 hours.
Patients were stuck in ambulances for more than 30 minutes outside the capital’s A&E units on 706 occasions last week, the figures showed.
Yesterday the Standard revealed that Barts Health - the country’s biggest group of hospitals - had 36 patients in Whipps Cross’ casualty department awaiting admission to a ward at 6am on Tuesday but nowhere to put them.
The previous evening the hospital, in Leytonstone, was so busy that trust bosses asked for ambulances to be diverted, only to be refused as other hospitals were also full.
In the week ending on Sunday, 463 patients at Barts waited more than four hours to be admitted to a ward.
Yesterday it was also revealed that the neighbouring Barking, Havering and Redbridge trust was forced to declare an “internal major incident” in the run-up to Christmas.
Bosses at the trust - the only one in London in special measures - were forced to implement the crisis procedure as Queen’s hospital in Romford and King George in Ilford buckled under unprecedented demand on December 16.
Last week it had 249 A&E patients waiting more than four hours to be admitted and 21 who waited more than 12 hours.
An internal major incident, which trusts do not have to make public at the time, was also declared by Croydon hospital for a period earlier this week.
Barking, Havering and Redbridge was the worst trust in the capital, and the fourth worst nationally, for A&E delays during the last quarter of 2014.
At Whipps Cross this week, outpatient operations were cancelled to free up space. An extra 99 “escalation” beds introduced across Whipps Cross, the Royal London and Newham to help with demand were “not sufficient”.
At times, patients had to be held in ambulances outside Whipps Cross’ A&E department for more than an hour. Barts said that the London Ambulance Service’s “intelligent conveyancing” system, which takes patients only to hospitals with spare capacity, effectively ground to a halt.
Ambulances were diverted away from Whipps Cross for short periods last Friday and on Sunday to prevent its resuscitation room exceeding capacity. All 36 patients stuck in A&E on Tuesday were eventually found a bed. Other trusts requesting ambulance diversions last week included the Royal Free, Hillingdon, Lewisham and Greenwich and King’s College.
Menwhile, Circle Holdings, the first private company to run a general hospital for the National Health Service, yesterday said it was pulling out of Hinchingbrooke hospital in eastern England because it was no longer sustainable.  Its decision, triggered by a crisis in the provision of emergency care across the NHS in recent months, is a blow to government plans to increase the role of private companies in healthcare.

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