Exclusive: Hospitalised GP left screaming all night in pain during NHS winter crisis ordeal

A GP being treated for septic arthritis in his knee was left screaming all night in pain during a four-week stay in a major English hospital this winter, with the care he received 'at times verging on negligence and neglect', GPonline can reveal.

The GP was left in tears, screaming and begging for help throughout the night around a week into his stay in hospital as staff failed to alleviate extreme pain caused by the bleeding, open wound on his knee.

Nurses sometimes took more than an hour to respond to buzzer calls, urine samples and dirty swabs were left lying around his room, pain relief was delayed and he was denied adequate food.

At one point, nursing staff left the bedbound GP cold and wet for almost an hour until in desperation he Googled the hospital’s reception telephone number and called it to ask for help.

The GP's detailed and harrowing account of his experience of hospital care - published today exclusively by GPonline - sheds new light on the devastating impact of the NHS winter crisis on patients. GP leaders said the levels of care described by this GP were 'unacceptable'.

Read the GP's account in full
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'I had to scream, shout and beg for help' - a GP's NHS hospital ordeal

The GP – who has made a formal complaint but wishes to remain anonymous at this stage – said he found the poor levels of care he received during the recent hospital visit ‘scary’ and that the experience left him fearing for the future of the NHS.

Had a patient described a hospital visit as traumatic as the ordeal he faced, the GP admitted he would have struggled to believe it had he not experienced it first-hand.

This account by a full-time GP - with more than a decade on the NHS frontline under his belt - reflects chronic pressure on the health service this winter, which has added to existing strain.

This website has reported throughout winter on NHS pressure - with 95% of hospital beds full on average across England since almost the start of 2018, the worst flu outbreak in seven years, 100,000 NHS posts vacant and elective acute care cancelled throughout January.

NHS winter crisis

Three quarters of GP partners say their practice has struggled to cope this winter, and one in four GPs say they have seen patients come to harm because of winter pressure on the health service.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told GPonline: 'While all healthcare professionals, whether in hospital or community based services, want to do the best they can, care such as this is unacceptable and it is important that it is brought to the attention of the hospital concerned.

'With an underfunded system under so much pressure and trying to respond to the needs of more and more patients, its going to be more difficult for nurses and doctors to provide a timely service for each and every patient. We need an expansion of the workforce so that all those working in healthcare settings have the necessary time to provide quality care in all situations.'

Both the DHSC and NHS England said they could not comment unless the specific hospital was named. The GP confirmed that his formal complaint to the hospital involved was being investigated.

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