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News NHS Crisis: Voices from the Front Line

Pressures in Scotland: Dignity is a luxury and fatigue runs “bone deep”

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 13 January 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p103
  1. Bryan Christie
  1. Edinburgh

The second Thursday in January was a good day at Scotland’s largest emergency department. To the great relief of staff at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, the corridors were not choked as usual with patients on trolleys, and some cleaning could take place.

“It’s a good day when you can see the floor,” said Dave Caesar, one of the lead consultants.

The floor has been obscured for much of this winter as the department has been running around 300% over capacity for long periods, resulting in many patients waiting up to 20 hours for a bed. A typical day would start with up to 90 patients in a space designed for 34, with 50 on trolleys waiting for a bed.

Caesar said that every available space would be used, with patients “in cubicles, sometimes doubled up, in the corridor and on chairs, …

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