The NHS is already overstretched. Everyone must wake up now to the dire consequences of irresponsible behaviour
It’s half past midnight on my last night shift of 2020, the working year I’ll never forget. We’re sat in our ambulance outside A&E with a patient with Covid symptoms, waiting for an isolation cubicle, and we’ve been here for almost three hours.
I keep apologising: the patient smiles graciously, tells us it’s not our fault, makes a joke about her nasal oxygen cannula being like a moustache. A doctor has been out to speak to her, and a nurse has taken bloods, both in the back of the ambulance. Other crews arrive and join the queue. At one point, four ambulances on blue lights appear within 10 minutes; their patients will take precedence since they require immediate care. Yet even these patients are being assessed in the ambulances initially because space inside the hospital is so limited.