A shocking report of a meeting at a major NHS trust is being shared online - after workers were reportedly told the ongoing crisis in the health service meant their own loved ones would not receive adequate treatment if they fell ill.
The account, told to a BBC journalist by a senior clinician at a trust in the North of England, also said staff pleaded with a chief executive to go public with concerns over patient safety, but they were told that Prime Minister Theresa May “didn’t want any of this to get out”.
Shari Vahl told Radio 4’s You and Yours that the tale of the meeting was unlike anything she had heard in her 27 years as a journalist.
Vahl told the programme:
Well I’ve never heard words like this and I’ve been a journalist for 27 years. I’ve been told there was a meeting at one of these hospitals last Thursday.
About a hundred members of staff were there including consultants and nurses and department heads and union leaders.
They were told by the hospital chief executive that the average ambulance wait should have been eight minutes but they were actually 40 minutes for urgent things like chest pains.
And one man had a cardiac arrest and waited five hours on a trolley in A&E, that’s just at this hospital.
The trust had brought in extra beds even though there was no money to do it. And the staff were told it was the worst the trust had ever seen in its history.
They shut out patients, they considered cancelling cancer patient treatment for whom they couldn’t do it safely because of low staffing levels.
Unions were there because nurses were unhappy saying that the staff were being moved between departments and it left them feeling as if they were working unsafely.
If you or your family live here and make a 999 call, you are at serious risk of not receiving the treatment you would need. Reported words of a hospital chief executive
And I’ve been told the hospital chief executive told the staff: “If you or your family live here and make a 999 call, you are at serious risk of not receiving the treatment you would need.”
And then it was suggested the chief executive of the hospital should go to the press. And the response was that they’d been given instructions that Theresa May, the prime minister, didn’t want any of this to get out.
Theresa May, the prime minister, didn’t want any of this to get out. Report of a meeting between doctors and a hospital chief executive
Vahl added that another doctor at a separate trust had told her of similar concerns. She said:
I spoke to a senior clinician at another trust in the north west who has said it is worse than he’s ever seen it before in a 40-year career. Next week also will be worse again.
They have also brought in extra beds, they don’t have the money to do that, most hospitals are running what they call they have brought in what is called outliers.
This is where patients go into other wards that are outlying somewhere else in the hospital.
Those patients are at greater risk as they are seen less regularly it is more difficult to see them.
He said they need more capacity to cope.
The nursing staff are working full shifts and then being asked to work overtime.
Goodwill is running out, something has to give.
Vahl’s reporting is being shared by campaigners online who have described it as “truly horrifying”.
Others said the report “needs to go viral”.
The Huffington Post UK has contacted the Department of Health for comment.
Earlier on Tuesday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt fled reporters who asked him about the “watering down” of a four hour target for A&E patients.