Disgrace of patients left waiting hours for treatment

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Let’s ignore the potential for a £500,000 fine for the moment and who runs what in the arcane world of the National Health Service which few outside it understand. Instead, let’s concentrate on the human side of the disgraceful scenes at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, at the moment.

Surely if you are unwell or badly injured enough to warrant being rushed to this major regional hospital with blue lights flashing and sirens wailing, you might reasonably expect to be admitted with some haste once you arrive there.

Wrong. Last month 2,308 patients waited for up to 30 minutes in an ambulance outside the hospital before they were admitted.

That is bad enough, but 25 people waited between two and four hours and one poor soul was left in the ambulance for an unbelievable four hours.

NHS guidelines state a patient arriving at A&E in an ambulance with blue lights flashing should be transferred into the hospital’s care within 15 minutes.

As we report today, the new Clinical Commissioning Groups, which now pay for patients’ treatment, could fine the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA, almost half a million pounds for all those delays in the unloading bay outside the hospital.

We agree with Portsmouth North Tory MP Penny Mordaunt when she says: ‘I find these figures totally unacceptable.’

But then she gets on her high horse and adds: ‘We need to get more staff into A&E. They clearly need to get more people in.’

Of course they do, that seems blindingly obvious.

But that would cost money and the coalition government led by her boss David Cameron is screwing the health service for every last penny at the moment.

Yes, there was, and still is, a huge amount of wasteful spending in the NHS. But yet more hare-brained reorganisations of the NHS costing millions do nothing for its image, simply confusing the very people who need it.

And they are the ones sitting or lying, sometimes for hours, in the back of an ambulance while someone is found to treat them.