NHS patients treated in ‘cupboards and car parks’, nursing union warns


Hospital patients are “dying in corridors”, nurses have warned as they declared a “national emergency” in the NHS.

Patients are regularly treated on chairs in corridors for extended periods of time – and sometimes even days, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said.

They are also receiving cancer diagnoses in public areas, and may have to undergo intimate examinations there too, the union added.

A survey of almost 11,000 frontline nursing staff across the UK shows the practice has become widespread, the RCN said.

When asked about their most recent shift, almost two in five reported delivering care in an inappropriate area, such as a corridor.

Patient privacy and dignity had been compromised, almost seven in 10 said.

“You wouldn’t treat a dog this way,” one nurse said.

Another nurse recounted a patient with dementia being in a corridor for hours without oxygen.

They said: “When I arrived, she was in a wheelchair on a corridor with her daughter. She was extremely agitated, crying and confused. This care environment for any patient, never mind with dementia, was completely inappropriate.”

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The RCN’s acting general secretary, Professor Nicola Ranger, will declare a national emergency at the start of the union’s annual conference.

The organisation will also publish a report on clinical care in inappropriate areas.

In order to show how widespread the practice has become, the RCN is calling for mandatory reporting of patients cared for in corridors.

“Our once world-leading services are treating patients in car parks and store cupboards,” Prof Ranger will tell delegates.

“The elderly are languishing on chairs for hours on end and patients are dying in corridors. The horror of this situation cannot be understated.

“It is a national emergency for patient safety and today we are raising the alarm.”

She will add: “Receiving a cancer diagnosis in a public area isn’t care. It’s a nightmare for all involved. We need to call it out as nursing staff, and health leaders and ministers need to take responsibility.”

Corridor care is a “symptom of a system in crisis”, the RCN’s report says, with patient demand in all settings, from primary to community and social care, outstripping workforce supply.

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