Man died waiting in A&E due to overcrowding, says hospital official

An 85-year-old man died while waiting in a hospital’s accident and emergency unit because of the “dangerous overcrowding of the department”, according to a leaked internal email.

Northampton general hospital NHS trust’s medical director, Matthew Metcalfe, said in the email, leaked to the Health Service Journal (HSJ), that the patient attended A&E complaining of abdominal pain on Wednesday afternoon.

The man was seen and assessed within 90 minutes and was waiting on a chair to be seen by senior staff after a blood test suggested he may have heart problems, the HSJ reported. His condition deteriorated just before 1am and he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Metcalfe’s email said: “Last night a patient died due entirely to the dangerous overcrowding of the department. The risk we have all been aware of, but may have felt hypothetical, has just happened.”

A spokeswoman for the trust said Metcalfe sent the email to consultants “to ensure they were fully aware of the seriousness of the position in our emergency department and also the importance of their ongoing support to our patients attending the department and their colleagues in the ED [emergency department] team”.

 

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