The number of NHS patients left in corridors while waiting for a bed has increased nearly nine-fold in two years and is now at record highs, a new report shows.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warned that 7,059 people had spent at least 12 hours being treated outside of wards in October this year, compared with 725 in October 2019.
In a report outlining current pressures on the NHS, the RCN said the practice was ‘fundamentally unsafe and must not be normalised’.
The numbers of people enduring ‘corridor care’ increased by more than 40 per cent between September and October, while the report warned that one in 10 people in England is now awaiting an elective procedure, with waiting lists at a record high of 5.8million.
The RCN said that ‘a perfect storm’ of pressures risked engulfing health and social care services in England in the coming months and warned that dozens of hospitals are running at dangerously high levels of bed occupancy, with some at levels above 95 per cent.
The RCN director for England, Patricia Marquis, said: “Speak to any nurse and they will tell you just how concerned they are for their patients as well as their colleagues.
“They have known for a long time just how the pressures have been growing and they can see the risk to patient care every single day in every part of health and care.”
The report also warned that more than 120,000 people had been forced to wait for at least four hours in Accident and Emergency departments in October, an increase of more than 50 per cent since October 2019.
Ambulances are also taking longer to reach patients, with heart attack sufferers now waiting an average of 53 minutes before help arrives, nearly three times the NHS target.
There are currently 38,000 vacancies in the NHS, and district nurse numbers are falling by 44 per cent and school nurses by over 30 per cent since 2009.