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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 February 2008

Hospitals "stacking" patients

THE GOVERNMENT has a long-standing promise that all out-patients are treated within four hours of admission to accident and emergency units. But a health trade union has revealed that thousands of seriously ill patients are suffering to meet this pledge.

Ambulances are being used as waiting rooms outside hospital emergency units to 'stack up' patients, so treatment can be said to have been completed within four hours of entering the hospital. This causes widespread distress and some patients have died during these enforced waits.

An official of Unison, the union representing many ambulance workers, said that:. "A fully equipped ambulance and a fully trained ambulance crew are effectively babysitting patients when they should be out there dealing with emergencies. Ambulances should not be used as mobile waiting rooms. They should be freed up to do their job."

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