The Red Cross is warning of a humanitarian crisis in British NHS hospitals following the death of an elderly woman who spent 35 hours on a trolley in A&E.

The woman, who has not been identified, was rushed to Worcestershire Royal Hospital this week, but she could not be taken onto a ward because there were no beds. Her condition deteriorated and she had a heart attack, dying in a hospital cubicle. Meanwhile, a second patient, who had to stay in the waiting room at the same hospital, died when he suffered an aneurysm.

There are now claims that the hospital is in “meltdown”. Nurses are understood to have been in tears becaue they feel so helpless about the situation, and patients are believed to have been on trolleys “three deep” in hospital corridors because of a severe lack of beds.


Medics say the dire situation at Worcestershire is the same as that being faced at casualty units across Britain. The Red Cross has revealed that it has been called upon to give help to hospitals and paramedics, saying that the picture was so bad it was a “humanitarian crisis.”

Startling data show the extent of the problems facing the NHS in the week leading up to January 1. During that week, casualty units were so full they had to close their doors to ambulances 42 times. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of patients waited at least four hours to be seen, when that is meant to be the maximum waiting time in A&E. The statistics also show that 1,000 beds were closed every day in a bid to prevent the spread of norovirus.

Ministers are now set to hold emergency talks with MPs and health chiefs in Worcestershire. However, this winter’s crisis is being blamed on pressures on social care funding, meaning that elderly patients are remaining in hospital longer rather than being released to be cared for in the community. This so-called bed blocking then results in there being no space for new patients.


Published by Elizabeth

A journalist from the South West of England, Elizabeth specialises in writing about politics, health and technology.