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NHS BEDS RAGE; Shortage forces 22 seriously ill patients to sleep in corridors.

Byline: By LINDSAY McGARVIE Political Editor

A CHRONIC lack of beds forced 22 seriously ill patients to sleep on trolleys in hospital corridors.

The patients - most of them elderly - were all admitted on the same night with breathing problems.

Frantic staff could not find a SINGLE bed at Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary.

The scandal emerged as an exclusive Sunday Mail poll revealed most Scots would quit the NHS and go private.

Last night, MSPs called for an inquiry into the Victoria bed scandal.

A dozen of the patients had to sleep in the corridor of a busy Accident and Emergency department. The other 10 were kept overnight on trolleys in a makeshift area just off the A&E waiting room.

The trolleys, rigged up with flimsy curtains, were just feet away from where drunks and violent patients wait for treatment.

Last night, NHS Greater Glasgow bosses insisted the patients had all been properly cared for - but conceded they should have been on wards. Horrified MSPs branded the case unacceptable.

A senior hospital doctor told a relative of one patient that the 450-bed hospital was in 'chaos'.

The relative said: 'What is going on at the Victoria is a disgrace. My father has moved wards several times during his stay, which isn't aiding his recovery.

'His doctor told me he was lucky to be in a ward at all, as there were more than 20 people sleeping in corridors at one point.

'I shiver to say this, but I'm worried that it could be my severely ill father who is next to be left lying on a trolley in a corridor.'

Hospital spin doctors, who showed us the area, claimed the 12 patients had been perfectly safe and well cared for and the general public were not constantly passing them.

They said the other 10 patients were kept in a 'medical assessment unit' on striker trolleys with special comfortable foam mattresses.

The Victoria is no stranger to controversy. Last year, we named it as one of the deadliest hospitals in the country after microbiologists found it riddled with superbugs.

Built in the 1800s, it will soon be replaced with a new hospital, without A&E facilities.

Last night, local Labour MSP Mike Watson said he planned to raise this latest case with the health board on Monday.

Watson said: 'I understand there has been a reduction in beds across the NHS recently. But there must be slack in the system to provide enough proper beds at times of peak demand.'

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon added: 'It's totally unacceptable in a modern hospital that anyone should have to wait overnight on a trolley, but even worse when it's older people. I'll be raising this in Parliament.'

Glasgow MSP Tommy Sheridan has demanded health minister Andy Kerr make statement on the Victoria at Holyrood next week.

The Scottish Socialist Party MSP said: 'This is a really shocking incident. The health board in Glasgow are deliberately running the Victoria down to prepare for and justify its closure.'

An unusually high number of people have been arriving at hospitals across the city with breathing problems in recent weeks.

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow said: 'The last two weeks have seen a sharp increase in patients arriving with respiratory related illnesses, which have put extra pressure at a traditionally busy time of the year.

'We have opened an additional 43 beds across the city to help.'

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Troubled: Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 20, 2005
Words:577
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