A nurse has publicly spoke out over emergency care in the UK and warned he would be “extremely worried” if a relative of his had to go into an emergency department.
Stephen McKenna who is a member of the Royal College of Nursing’s emergency nurse network, described the UK’s “emergency care” to that of what you would expect in “developing countries.”
McKenna who is an emergency care nurse at a hospital in Northern Ireland said he and his colleagues are working in “relentless conditions” in hospitals.
McKenna told BBC Radio Ulster, “It’s hard to put into words how difficult it has been for healthcare staff across the board and, in particular, in emergency care.
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“It’s quite possibly the worst I have seen it in my six years working in A&E.
“I would probably liken it to emergency care in developing countries and I can, hand on heart, say that that is the case.
“I had a nursing elective studying abroad, and I was horrified at what I saw when I was in Nepal, and I am starting to see similar things right here in Northern Ireland, and across the UK, and it is heart-breaking for the staff.”
The nurse warned that patients are being cared for in areas which are not designed for care, such as corridors.
McKenna said that people are being nursed “head to toe, top to tail, side by side, crammed into spaces” which is “unacceptable.”
McKenna continued, “There are people literally lying and sitting side by side in conditions that would otherwise have been completely unacceptable just five years ago.
“Nobody came into nursing or medicine to provide sub-standard care and, as much as we try our best to deliver the best care that we can in line with the guidelines that our nursing and midwivery council set out, and the (health) Trusts expect from us, we are not able to give that because how can you look after someone who is lying side by side beside someone potentially with dementia, or delirium, confusion, detoxing from alcohol or drugs, agitated, distressed.
“Those patients need to have their own unique space. You’re supposed to be able to care for people with dignity – you cannot do that at the minute, the conditions are absolutely horrific.”
McKenna said he would be “extremely worried” should a relative need to head to an emergency department in the UK.
He added, “To the point where I would probably want to be with them every step of the way.
“I know, sometimes for nurses who work in emergency care settings, it can be a little difficult to have relatives at the bedside all the time because it can make your work a little more difficult because you can’t potentially get on with things you need to do, but I can see why people want to be there now.
“I would be really worried about leaving a grandparent, a mother, a sister, a brother in an emergency department for fear that they’re going to be lying somewhere potentially distressed by other patients, potentially not getting the care they need because the staff are just completely overwhelmed.”