A nurse at a London hospital has spoken of their fear for patient safety and the “unbearable” conditions in the hospital as Covid-19 patient numbers continue to rise.
The nurse, who works at the Whittington hospital in north London, spoke on condition of anonymity to PA Media.
They said some patients were being left in corridors, some spending up to three hours in ambulances because of a lack of beds and one being left without oxygen when their cylinder ran out.
The nurse said: “I’m worried about patient safety because if these little things are happening now when we’re short and it’s busy, it’s only going to get worse. I don’t know what else will happen – it worries me.”
The UK recorded 57,725 Covid-19 cases on Saturday, its highest ever daily total.
There have been 445 more deaths, of people who had tested positive within the previous 28 days, bringing the total number of deaths to 74,570, according to official government figures.
The figures do not represent results from the whole of the UK because of data on deaths not being reported by Scotland on Saturday.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have been 90,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals is at record levels in many areas of England – including London, the south-west and the Midlands – with admissions rising above the levels reached during the first wave.
The latest daily figures show 2,434 patients were admitted to hospital on Saturday. Staff in hospitals are struggling to cope with the influx of patients from the second wave.
“It’s not having enough nurses to care for patients – patient safety is being affected,” the nurse told PA Media. “Some are in corridors, being looked after in makeshift areas, makeshift wards have been created for Covid patients, and ICUs are running out of space.
“Staff have got low morale – we haven’t even gotten over the first wave physically, emotionally and mentally, and now we’re having to deal with this second wave.”
The nurse described finding one coronavirus patient with “several health conditions” who had been left on an oxygen cylinder after it had run out.
They said: “He thought he was receiving oxygen but the whole cylinder had run out. Because of staff shortages and because the nurses are tired, no one had checked on him.
“He was in a room with an oxygen port on the wall but he was left on a cylinder and no one had gone back to check on him.”
They said nurses were overstretched as six beds were being put in bays that usually hold four, and having to check in on patients in other rooms that were being converted into makeshift wards.
“You’ve got patients in plaster rooms on hospital beds, and patients being left on oxygen in corridors and waiting to be taken back to their room.”
They said the hospital had been put on divert recently, meaning ambulances were told not take patients there because they were not able to take any more.
The nurse called for the government to instigate a “complete lockdown” and urged the public to follow restrictions.
“I don’t necessarily blame the public when the messages have been so mixed from this government,” they said. “But I just want them to hear us and hear what we’re saying because it’s really unbearable.”
A spokesperson from Whittington Health said: “Whilst we do not comment on anonymous claims, we take these allegations very seriously. Like the whole NHS, Whittington Health is currently experiencing pressure as a result of a rapid increase in Covid-positive patients.
“However, the safety of our patients remains our top priority and our staff are working tirelessly to ensure that we can continue to provide safe, effective and compassionate care to those who require it.”