The headline on the front page of today’s News says it simply and starkly. Queen Alexandra Hospital is at breaking point.
Unprecedented demand for emergency treatment has left the hospital struggling to cope. A spokesman admits that more people are attending A&E than it can deal with.
A worrying picture has been painted of ambulances queueing up outside QA, with the condition of patients inside them worsening as time ticks by.
And all the while those ambulances stay put, they are not able to answer 999 calls.
The stories are alarming. Like that of 85-year-old Hazel Mulholland, who was taken to the QA on December 30 and waited for half-an-hour in the back of an ambulance and then another SIX hours in a hospital corridor before being properly assessed by a doctor.
Her grand-daughter, Emma Leng, says her nan’s treatment from then on was excellent. But surely it can’t be right that an elderly woman is left for so long because staff are just too busy?
Of course, it’s easy to blame the hospital for what has become an unacceptable situation. The QA was already on ‘black alert’ for not having enough A&E beds to cope with the number of admissions – and now it appears things are getting even worse.
Yesterday, figures revealed Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which manages QA, was the sixth worst performing trust in the country for meeting A&E visitor targets.
Hospital bosses have to respond to this crisis and, to their credit, they are working hard to ensure patient safety and ease demand on A&E. A plan of action has been formulated and speedier assessment of patients is high on the list of priorities.
But they can’t do it on their own. We all have a crucial part to play.
If an injury is not serious, please don’t call an ambulance or go to QA and just clog up the system.
Instead, go to a local treatment centre, your GP or a pharmacist.
Meanwhile the overstretched resources of the A&E department can be directed at those who really need them.
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