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London hospitals set to double up patients in wards to tackle winter crisis

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NHS trusts across London are set to start moving patients from A&E onto wards “irrespective” of whether there are beds available, The Independent has learned.

The new model, which involves moving patients every two hours out of A&E and onto wards called acute medical units, has prompted concerns that patients could be “double lodged” on hospital wards.

The move follows the trial of a new system by North Bristol NHS Trust last month, which said it would be moving three patients every hour from A&E onto wards in a bid to address severe ambulance handover delays.

On Thursday, health secretary Steve Barclay said that the “number one” priority for the NHS currently is tackling ambulance handover delays, with a “small” number of trusts accounting for half of all delays.

In a memo seen by The Independent, NHS clinicians in one hospital were told that London trusts would be rolling out the North Bristol model at “pace” ahead of winter. The system involves moving one patient from A&E onto a ward every two hours “irrespective of bed availability”.

Speaking to The Independent, one NHS director said the move would lead to “double lodging” patients, which means squeezing more patients into wards, and that this could be “dangerous” for patients.

However, A&E doctors told The Independent that the move should be welcomed, as it spreads the crowding and risk for patients across hospital departments rather than confining it to A&E.

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Source: The Independent, 4 September 2022

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