A scathing report from the Care Quality Commission suggests 100 patients are dying needlessly in A&E departments every year.
The commission paint a picture of extremely poor performance in this critical aspect of the health service, after widespread inspection of the hospital stock.
It has been revealed by the Care Quality Commission that 57 per cent of the 176 A&E units it visited were not up to scratch.
Meanwhile, 16 departments have been rated inadequate, with enforcement action ultimately taken against the hospitals in question.
Perhaps this can partially explained by the extent of patient numbers in Accident and Emergency.
A&E units dealt with 23 million patients last year; the highest number on record.
This contributed to a clogging of the Accident and Emergency system, with patients often negatively affected by the existing climate.
Waiting times in A&E are the worst since 2004, and 51,000 patients have languished on trolleys for four hours or more.
Those institutions marked inadequate include Whipps Cross University Hospital, Torbay Hospital, Manor Hospital, Royal Cornwall Hospital, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Mill Hospital and Medway Maritime Hospital.
With the situation clearly serious, leaders of doctors’ unions have warned that it is essential for the NHS to address the problems in A&E sooner rather than later.
Cliff Mann, of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, commented on the impact on patients caused by A&E overcrowding.
“Quite a lot of people are having worse care because of overcrowding and some, undoubtedly, will not recover from their illness, whereas had they been seen in a properly resourced department and seen as promptly as possible they would have survived.”
Meanwhile, many healthcare experts believe that Accident and Emergency departments across the country face nothing short of a crisis in staffing, with doctors throughout the NHS deserting A&E for other areas of speciality.
And it is clear that in some areas of the health service, patients are facing particularly unacceptable risks and environments.
The CQC report for William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, revealed patients were left ‘stacked’ on trolleys and chairs in corridors.
Inspectors commented on the extent of problems at William Harvey Hospital, reflecting on the gravity of the situation at the hospital.
“We saw patients left on trolleys rather than beds, consequently not receiving relief for pressure areas. We saw patients on trolleys and chairs in the corridor and patients stacked in the middle of the department. Patients were having cannulas [tubes inserted into the body to administer drugs or drain fluid] inserted in the corridors. We saw patients being examined in the main corridor.”
The consensus of opinion among doctors is that A&E is massively underfunded and that the situation must be addressed sooner rather than later.