A&E Clip Summing Up 'Desperate State' Of NHS Goes Viral For All The Wrong Reasons

Health secretary Sajid Javid blamed the delay on the Covid backlog.
A viral clip of A&E waiting times has stunned the general public
A viral clip of A&E waiting times has stunned the general public

The grim reality of NHS services was revealed in a viral clip this week where A&E staff told people waiting to be seen could be there for up to 13 and a half hours.

Shared by Guardian journalist Hannah Jane Parkinson, the video – originally posted by Twitter user Gary Sitton – quickly amassed more than a million views.

In her caption, Parkinson explained that the video “sums up the desperate state of the NHS” and that the situation depicted is not “unusual” for anyone using the health service at the moment.

The footage shows a nurse addressing a very busy waiting room in Harlow A&E, run by Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust in Essex.

“We’ve currently got 170 patients in the department, there are 90 patients waiting to be seen at the moment,” the nurse said.

“Our current wait time for a doctor is seven and a half hours.

“I will estimate by the time I go home in the morning at 8 o‘clock some of you will still be here waiting for a doctor because the waits will get up to 12 or 13 hours.

“There are currently no beds in the trust. We’re trying to make more space if we can but if people are admitted there’s a chance they’ll in A&E overnight.

“We will do our best to make comfortable, we will do our best to look after you, but please don’t expect you will be going direct to a ward because that might not happen.”

She asked any relatives accompanying waiting patients to leave, so that social distancing measures could be improved.

People on social media were understandably stunned at the clip:

Health secretary Sajid Javid was then asked about the astonishing video during his morning media rounds and justified it by claiming the NHS was seeing “very high levels of demand” following the Covid pandemic.

On Wednesday morning, he admitted to BBC Breakfast: “Of course, that’s not a thing that anyone wants to see.”

Javid continued: “Because of the impact of Covid...we know already from our NHS estimates, we think some 11 to 13 million people stayed away from the NHS because of the pandemic.

“Many of those people are coming forward, many of those to A&E, and we’re seeing very high levels of demand.

“That is a real challenge for the NHS across the system.

He said the government was now investing record amounts in ambulance trusts, in the 111 calling service and the extra £400 million emergency funding pumping into A&E facilities over the last year.

He claimed: “I think the NHS is doing everything it possibly can be doing. The waiting times are improving but it’s not what anyone wants to see, those kinds of waits.”

However, only on Tuesday, Javid admitted that the whole health service was akin to “blockbuster” in an age of Netflix”.

Blockbuster video chain went under in 2013, as customers turned to online services rather than physical stores for films.

Javid said that this problem had arisen because of “successive governments”.

He also claimed the government had set the NHS a target of “dramatically improving productivity” to save £4.5 billion a year.

The government increased national insurance contributions earlier this year too, in a bid to create a health and social care levy to help tackle the Covid backlog.


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