Overstretched hospitals ordered to ‘immediately’ find more bed capacity

NHS England has told hospitals to ensure ambulances wait no more than 30 minutes to handover patients.

Already overstretched hospitals have been ordered to “take immediate steps” to relieve pressure on ambulance services by creating additional capacity.

NHS England chiefs, including Chief Nurse Ruth May, sent a letter to NHS Chief Executives yesterday demanding immediate action by hospitals and Integrated Care Systems (ICS).

It comes only days after Nursing Notes reported every single ambulance service in England has now declared ‘critical incident’ status, and the RCN revealed that nurses are being forced to treat patients in corridors as NHS buckles in summer crisis.

NHS England has told hospitals to ensure ambulances wait no more than 30 minutes to handover patients.

Physical beds are usually not the problem for NHS trusts but instead the constrained supply of nurses and doctors to provide care for these additional patients.

Difficult decisions.

The letter explains “often requires difficult decisions about how to best balance risk across the system and requires some organizations to take on more risk”.

“We must collectively take immediate steps to reduce the delays that patients experience by creating capacity within acute hospitals to allow for quicker handover and therefore faster response to the public.

NHS England explained they know it won’t be “easy”, placing an “additional burden on staff at an already challenging time”, but insist the steps are necessary to relieve pressures from ambulance services.

They add that the new measures are not “the sole responsibility of emergency department teams”, but instead, patients should quickly be moved out of ED into the wider hospital. explaining

Finally, they ask for the “creation of observation areas, and exploring further ways to add additional beds elsewhere in the hospital.”

Patient care is compromised.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has condemned the letter which calls for staff to care for more patients with the same resources.

They say that “only yesterday, we publicly raised concerns on behalf of our members that patient care is compromised or lacking in dignity when care is given in inappropriate locations”, adding: “With every ‘bed’ that is created, the nurse staffing level must rise too. It is our fear that, with existing nurse staffing challenges, this will further dilute nurse-to-patient ratios.”

“Our members report that the current situation is compromising patient safety and their own professional values. Many are raising concerns of potential incidents and disciplinary action and question whether the extraordinary pressure will be adequately acknowledged in investigations/incident reviews.

The RCN on to encourage staff to report, or DATIX, situations which compromise patient safety. “The RCN continues to advise our members to document concerns and to raise them through organizational policies to resolve the issues locally where possible.”

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