‘Third World Conditions’: UK’s Socialised Health Service Forced to Cancel All Non-Emergency Operations

Isabel Infantes/AFP

All hospitals in Britain’s socialised National Health Service (NHS) have been ordered to cancel all non-emergency operations until at least the end of this month, as the worst winter crisis in 30 years takes hold.

Around 55,000 planned procedures are expected to be axed in a desperate attempt to free up beds, the Evening Standard reports. One senior doctor claimed that patients are being treated in “third world” conditions in some hospitals.

Other NHS trusts have abandoned basic rules that state that men and women should be kept on separate wards and some patients are facing a 12-hour wait to receive Accident and Emergency care as hospitals run out of space.

The emergency has been preceded by a growing flu crisis, and as of Tuesday, 12 NHS trusts covering millions of people have said they are at the maximum state of emergency.

In Staffordshire, senior consultant Dr. Richard Fawcett claimed vulnerable patients were being treated in “third world conditions” in overcrowded wards.

The former Army doctor, who has served in Afghanistan, made a dramatic apology to people in his area on Twitter.

The deferral of all non-urgent inpatient elective care until February was ordered by NHS medical director Sir. Bruce Keogh.

He said in a statement: “I want to thank NHS staff who have worked incredibly hard under sustained pressure to take care of patients over the Christmas. We expect these pressures to continue and there are early signs of increased flu prevalence.

“The NHS needs to take further action to increase capacity and minimise disruptive last-minute cancellations.”

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) and Society for Acute Medicine both made warnings about the crisis. Emergency medicine consultant Dr. Adrian Boyle, chairman for quality at the RCEM, told the Evening Standard: “Everybody is struggling at the moment.

“Every type 1 emergency department that I know of is under serious and sustained pressure. It feels worse than the equivalent period last year.

“This means that ambulances are waiting outside emergency departments waiting to offload, the emergency departments are full, clinical staff are working extremely hard to try and look after these patients, often having to treat patients in corridors, people suffering lengthy delays.

“And we know that excessive crowding within emergency departments is associated with avoidable deaths.”

Dr. Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, added: “The position at the moment is as bad as I’ve ever known. Pre-Christmas 43 trusts were more than 98 per cent full despite 3,000 extra beds in use. I expect this to be at least doubled, maybe trebled today.

“We are starting to report Australasian flu is beginning to appear which is worrying. We are seeing a lot of flu-like symptoms but as yet do not know if it is ‘normal’ or the Australasian strain.”


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