Mental health patients at a south London hospital are being treated in A&E for five days - and 60 nurses have resigned from one department, an MP has revealed.
Putney MP Fleur Anderson said the situation facing St George’s Hospital in Tooting is “chaotic” while the NHS is in crisis.
Ms Anderson said staff have been forced to treat patients in corridors for the first time in the hospital’s history.
St George’s NHS Trust announced it was under “extreme pressure” earlier this month – and expects to be “very busy” over the coming months.
A&Es across Britain face huge pressures, with record waiting times and hospital corridors turned into makeshift wards as beds on the real wards are full.
Ms Anderson told the House of Commons on Wednesday (January 11) that “pain, suffering and preventable deaths are up, GP waiting times are up, A&E waiting times are up, mental health and cancer assessment times are up”. She said there are “huge gaps in community care”.
The MP said she “didn’t realise how bad” the crisis was until she visited St George’s A&E last week – where staff are “broken-hearted” at having to treat patients in corridors for the first time in the hospital’s history.
She said: “All the doctors and nurses I spoke to agreed that this was the worst time they’ve ever experienced in their whole careers. The Winter Ward was opened last year but had to stay open for the whole year and so there’s now no more space for the extra winter surge. 60 nurses have resigned from that department because of the stress of the workload and under pay.
“The additional winter payments which came from the government were only paid in December and have to be spent by March, giving them hardly any real impact.”
Ms Anderson added: “They’ve had to stop elective heart surgery since the beginning of December. Mental health patients are being treated in A&E for five days.”
Ms Anderson said the hospital needs a “long-term plan, not being surprised by winter every year”.
In an earlier statement in January, the trust said its teams are “working hard” to see A&E patients as quickly as possible, “but right now – like all parts of the NHS – we are not always able to provide the level of care we would like, and we are very sorry this is the case”.
The trust added that it is putting measures in place to try to ease pressures – including opening up extra beds, supporting elderly and frail people in their homes to avoid A&E admissions and introducing a “hospital at home” and remote monitoring service.
It said: “It’s still really important you continue to come forward for the care you need. If it’s an emergency or life-threatening, then please dial 999 or go to an emergency department as normal.”