Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is facing a “humanitarian crisis” as hospitals and ambulance services struggle to keep up with rising demand, the British Red Cross has warned.
The warning came following the deaths of two patients after long waits on trolleys in hospital corridors in Worcester.
Worcestershire Royal hospital launched an investigation on Friday into the deaths and did not deny reports that they had occurred over the New Year period.
On Friday, medical officials said more patients could die because of the crisis engulfing the NHS.
The deaths prompted claims that the health service was “broken,” and long waits for care, chronic bed shortages and staff shortages were leading towards what the head of Britain’s emergency room doctors called “untold patient misery.”
One woman reportedly died of a heart attack after waiting for 35 hours on a trolley in a hospital corridor, and a man died from an aneurysm while also waiting on a trolley.
Another patient was found hanged on a ward at the Worcestershire Royal hospital, which acknowledged that it was under great pressure, partly due to the extra strain hospitals face during winter.
Many patients who visited Worcestershire Royal hospital this week told The Guardian of long waits, corridors lined with patients and overstretched staff.
“For a long time we have been saying that the NHS is on the edge. But people dying after long spells in hospital corridors shows that the NHS is now broken,” said Dr. Mark Holland, the president of the Society for Acute Medicine.
“We have got to the point where the efforts of staff to prop up the system are no longer enough to keep the system afloat. We are asking NHS staff to provide a world-class service, but with third world levels of staffing and third world levels of beds,” Holland said.
“That so many other hospitals in England are facing the same pressures as the one in Worcester means that other fatalities could occur. I would suggest that the same thing could happen in other hospitals, because lots of hospitals are under the same pressures,” he added.
NHS Providers, the membership organization for NHS, warned in September that the system was on the verge of collapse unless urgent funding was provided.