NHS 'national emergency' declared and staff say 'you wouldn't treat a dog this way'

A "national emergency" has been declared over the state of NHS hospitals with patients "treated in cupboards and car parks" and some "dying in corridors". Royal College of Nursing (RCN) acting general secretary Professor Nicola Ranger will use her keynote speech to declare a national emergency over the survey's findings.

Prof Ranger will tell the 3,000 conference delegates that the situation is a "tragedy" for the nursing profession. "Our once world-leading services are treating patients in car parks and store cupboards," she will say.

"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.

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"This is about honesty and accountability. Care being delivered in front of a fire exit isn't care. Signing 'Do not resuscitate' orders in a corridor isn't care. 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." One nurse, working in a hospital in England, said: "Patients are soiled for long periods of time because there is nowhere to change them.

"I've witnessed DNACPR (do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation) decisions being signed in the corridor. I've had to move a deceased patient into a corridor in order to generate resuscitation capacity before. It's horrific."

Prof Ranger will say: "Treating patients in corridors used to be an exceptional circumstance. Now it is a regular occurrence and a symptom of a system in crisis. We are right to be angry that this once abnormal practice has become normalised."

One nurse said: "You wouldn't treat a dog this way." A second 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."

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers, said: "These findings reflect the severe pressures facing the NHS, including high demand, lack of bed capacity and delayed hospital discharge. No trust leader wants to treat patients in corridors, store cupboards or other non-clinical areas as it compromises quality of care, patient privacy and dignity. The deeply concerning experiences shared by frontline nurses highlight the urgent need for more strategic investment and planning. It's vital the next government properly address the root causes of hospital overcrowding.

"Improving social care and community services is also key to ensure patients can be discharged safely and promptly, freeing up hospital beds for those most in need."