Nightmare Scenes at Shrewsbury Hospital A&E Exposed on Channel 4’s Dispatches.

Recent undercover footage from Channel 4’s Dispatches programme has exposed truly upsetting scenes from The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust’s A&E Department.

We often associate hospitals with hope and relief, believing we are finally in safe hands when we are feeling our most unwell and vulnerable. However, the scenes we saw on Dispatches unfortunately demonstrate the stark reality that for most people, this is not the case. The striking quote of Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at the King’s Fund “However bad you think it is, it’s worse” rings true.

The programme highlighted a number of examples of deeply worrying standards of care.

We see a suspected stroke patient in the ‘Fit to Sit’ area waiting for 24 hours to see someone only to find out that the medics did not have her on their list or even know she was waiting to be seen. We hear from Stroke Consultant, Dr Sanjeev Nayak who states that this is “unacceptable”, he explains that 24 hours is too long for a suspected stroke patient, they should be seen immediately, have a scan within the hour and then be referred to the medical team for treatment. He goes on to explain that situations like this can have life-altering consequences where “depending on severity of stroke, may suffer a severe disability which will take away the rest of his life, he may be dependent on people, he may be dependent on care or in the worst case scenario, not live very long”.

Unfortunately, such consequences are brought to life when we are shown footage of a staff meeting where the staff are informed that “a patient was found deceased in a cubicle wearing an oxygen mask and evidence of vomit around their mouth.”

There is a scene in the programme which shows ambulance crews leaving patients without giving the nurses a handover. When the undercover reporter speaks to a colleague and asks “‘is that dangerous”, he is told “it is, but it happens all the time”. Siva Anandaciva adds that “it’s not just a breach of protocol, its negligence”.

We are told that patients with dementia should be supervised when they are admitted for treatment yet this is contrasted with the scenes of an elderly dementia patient being left in a side room on his own covered in blood as he has ripped out his cannula.

While these scenes are distressing, Dr Adrian Boyle, President of Royal College of Emergency Medicine says they are “not an exception”. We are told that there are around “40 breaches a day” with notes being lost, and simple protocols such as using slide sheets to not damage people’s skin when they are being moved from their beds are not being following because simply put, “you cannot keep up, requests slip through the cracks, patients slip through the cracks”. Dr Boyle adds that “people will miss their routine medications. They’ll be next to people who can infect them with other diseases. It’s just not acceptable”.

Professor Alf Collins from Patients Association said: “The quality of care is massively eroded, it’s clearly unacceptable’”.

Undercover reporter Robbie reveals that “there is no time or resources to do it the way you’re supposed to”, with timely observations being missed and only 60% of patient observations being done on time. We see staff mocking the protocols that are put in place to keep patients safe with one staff member saying that the four hour target “would be in fantasy hospital of [her] dreams”.

Patients are waiting well in excess of four hours with one patient having waited 46 hours to be seen. These excessive waiting times have serious and life-threatening consequences for patients demonstrated when we see a patient in the ‘Fit to Sit’ area suffering a fit. We are told that a Freedom of Information Request by Dispatchers found nearly 400,000 patient in England spent more than 24 hours in A&E in the last 12 months, which is a 5% increase on the previous year.

Dr Adrian Boyle said “I don’t think this is unique to this hospital by any stretch of the imagination”. He added that “If somebody stays more than 8-12 hours, that’s harmful. And for every 72 people who spend more than 8-12 hours, there is one additional death. There were upwards of 250 excess deaths each week, last year.”

Although difficult to watch, these harrowing scenes raise awareness of the “dreadful” and “clearly unacceptable” care that patients experience. Unfortunately, this is the reality for a lot of our clients.

At Lanyon Bowdler, we see the people behind the numbers and encourage anyone who has themselves or had a family member experience substandard care whilst a patient in A&E or the wider hospital, to reach out to our specialist Clinical Negligence Team.

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