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Bosses under fire for 'cover-up' over shortage of hospital beds.

HOSPITAL chiefs have been accused of concealing the true extent of a beds crisis.

The plight of pensioner Charlie Mayne, who spent 29 hours on a trolley at Birmingham's City Hospital suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting, provoked national fury at the state of the NHS.

Hospital chiefs claimed Mr Mayne's experience was isolated and patients rarely had to wait more than four hours.

But a hospital worker has told the Sunday Mercury that the sick and injured are regularly waiting at least 10 hours, are regularly left on trolleys and are dumped in holding bays so they are technically not waiting for a bed.

Union chiefs say hospital managers are unwilling to reveal the true extent of the problem.

Gordon Will, West Midlands health officer for the public service union Unison, said: "It is natural for health service managers to claim they are doing well when they are paid large salaries and entrusted with Government resources.

"And the Government doesn't like health workers to break ranks and say they have too few resources to provide a decent service.

"The NHS runs on a knife-edge. There are not enough nurses and not enough beds."

The City Hospital worker said: "Patients are regularly waiting eight, nine and 10 hours for a bed. It's appalling that the managers try to cover it up. If they admitted there was a problem, the Government would be forced to do something.

"I've taken a friend with heart trouble to City Hospital four or five times and every single time he's had to wait between 12 and 20 hours stuck out on a corridor.

"And other patients are shoved on to holding wards so they are supposedly not waiting for beds.

"Once you have been seen and know you are going to be admitted, a bed should be waiting."

Bob Ewings, chief executive of City Hospital, said: "It is exceptional to have a wait of more than 20 hours.

"We don't like it or try to justify it, but the reasons behind the case of Mr Mayne were based on a clinical decision not to refer an infectious patient to a ward without a side room.

"I reject totally any suggestion we are trying to cover up. We are always honest and open with the public, patients and staff.

"We have difficulties with trolley waits and staff raise concerns that we respond to with practical help.

"There is a national pressure on beds and we are part of that."
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 31, 1999
Words:412
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