‘SIGNIFICANT’ demand at Barnsley Hospital has resulted in healthcare bosses responding to claims that patients being treated in corridors due to overflowing wards has become the ‘new normal’ - after a nursing union declared the situation as an emergency due to a third of staff confirming they had witnessed it.

The Royal College of Nursing’s report into care on corridors urged NHS trusts to sign up to mandatory reporting when a patient is treated without privacy to reveal the extent of overcrowding.

The plight of ‘overworked’ Barnsley Hospital’s staff has recently been highlighted on Channel Five’s fly-on-the-wall series, Casualty 24/7: Every Second Counts, which showed A and E at full capacity and ambulances queuing with patients onboard.

In a clip from the series, a nurse told the film crew: “Look at the waiting room - it’s just ridiculous.

“I’ve got to make sure that they’ve all had their treatment, that they’ve had their X-rays, that the doctors have seen them, that the doctor knows what he’s doing with them, that any transport that needs booking that that’s been done.

“I have literally no beds, I’ve got 90 patients in the department, there’s about 12 waiting for the acute medical unit.

“There are no beds - there’s no movement.”

RCN chief executive Nicola Ranger said patients’ welfare and dignity were not being prioritised and called on regulators such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to include cases of ‘corridor care’ in their inspection criteria.

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She said the situation at Barnsley Hospital is replicated across the country and that immediate change is required.

“Heavy patient flow and lack of capacity sees nursing staff left with no space to place patients so what would have been an emergency measure is now routine,” Ms Ranger added.

“This is a tragedy for our profession - our once world-leading services are treating patients in corridors, car parks and store cupboards.

“Patients are languishing on chairs for hours on end and patients are dying in corridors.

“The horror of this situation cannot be understated - it is a national emergency for patient safety and we are raising the alarm.

“Care being delivered in front of a fire exit isn’t care and signing do not resuscitate orders in a corridor isn’t care.

‘It’s a nightmare for all involved - we need to call it out as nursing staff, and health leaders and ministers need to take responsibility.

“Corridor care is a scourge in our hospitals but we know the solution is to invest in our entire health and care system.”

However, progress in Barnsley has occurred since last year’s filming of the series, with A and E patients’ waits being reduced despite monthly admissions hovering around the 9,000 mark.

NHS bosses said they were trying to relieve the pressure by increasing the number of so-called ‘virtual wards’, in which patients are cared for at home.

A spokesperson said: “The NHS is facing significant demand for services and quality of care remains a priority.

“One of the key ambitions of our urgent and emergency care recovery plan is to improve patient flow in and out of hospitals.

“The NHS delivered an extra 5,000 core beds this winter, alongside measures to help patients avoid an A and E admission in the first place.

“Tools like our world-leading virtual ward programme and discharge lounges all help to improve care for patients.”

However, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, which represents A and E doctors, said patients being kept in non-clinical areas was ‘dehumanising’.

Its president, Dr Adrian Boyle, added: “As shocking as the findings are, treating patients in corridors, cupboards and car parks is the daily reality our members and their colleagues face every time they go to work.

“This shameful situation is one of the most visible indicators of a system under huge pressure and not functioning as it should be.”