‘I just cried’ - Merseyside nurses forced to treat patients in hospital corridors amid bed shortage

Exhausted nurses have been balloted on strike action as hospitals across the region have reported bed and staff shortages.

Nurses across Merseyside are facing extreme pressure, as staffing issues and shortages of beds continue to cause problems.

Patients are having to be treated in corridors in hospitals across the region due to the wait for spaces on wards, while exhausted staff have been left in tears at the situation.

A staff nurse at Arrowe Park’s Emergency Department, who wishes to remain anonymous, told LiverpoolWorld that it’s becoming impossible to effectively treat patients.

The nurse said: “I finished my shift and just cried. I was left nursing eleven patients in the corridor because we don’t have enough beds. A high number of our patients are waiting for social care beds, so they are medically fit but in our hospital beds.

“Elderly people have been left in corridors for hours and winter pressures have started to hit us before the cold weather has really started. Staffing numbers are what they were ten years ago, despite a rise in the population and increased demand for treatment.

“The hospital is expanding the Emergency Department to cope with demand but not expanding the ward space. We are exhausted and there are long waits for patients to see doctors.”

A Wirral University Teaching Hospital spokesperson said: “In line with the national picture of unscheduled care demands and high bed occupancy, our Emergency Department is very busy.

“Whilst we do not have bed shortages, we have a significant number of people in our hospitals who do not need to remain in an acute setting and who cannot be discharged due to complex care needs. In order to ensure that patients attending via ambulance receive timely treatment, and to enable the ambulance crews to be released to answer urgent calls, there are occasions when are patients are initially cared for on our Emergency Department corridors.

“In this event, we ensure that our patients are safe and as comfortable as possible. We have dedicated staff to ensure they receive timely assessment and treatment. If they do require admission, they are transferred to a ward environment as soon as practicable. We are building a new urgent and emergency care department at a cost of £28m, which includes much larger ambulance receiving bays and assessment areas. We remain focussed on safe and effective care for our patients.”

According to the Liverpool ECHO, Aintree University Hospital is facing similar issues, with two corridors being used as makeshift wards as departments are overwhelmed.

BBC Radio Merseyside also reported that 27 patients seeking emergency care were left in corridors at the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital, this weekend.

A spokesperson for Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust told LiverpoolWorld that this figure is not physically possible and pointed out that A&E pressures are widespread across the country, not just Liverpool.

Staff on an NHS hospital ward. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Strike action by nurses

The Royal College of Nursing, one of the biggest healthcare unions in the United Kingdom, are still counting ballots after members conducted the largest vote in the union’s history. The vote, regarding industrial action over pay and staffing, polled around 300,000 nurses and healthcare workers, as a round of strikes look set to occur.

Estephanie Dunn, Regional Director for RCN North-West, told LiverpoolWorld: “Nurses aren’t after a huge pay rise. This is not about greed, it’s about survival.”

Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive also said that the potential strike is about patient safety, not just pay.