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Former QMC consultant says strike ballots reflect NHS is ‘most pressurised it’s ever been’

A former Nottingham hospital consultant said he is not certain he would join the NHS if he had his time again.

Dr Bob Winter, who was a Major Trauma Consultant at the Queen’s Medical Centre, was filmed as part of Channel 4’s 24 hours in A&E.

The 64-year-old qualified 40 years ago and worked at QMC, which is run by Nottingham University Hospitals, for 30 years.

He retired from the NHS in August 2022 and is now the Chief Medical Officer at the Donnington Park Motor Racing Circuit.

BOB 4
© Channel 4

Dr Winter features in five episodes of 24 Hours in A&E which was filmed between October 2021 and March 2022.

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He said: “I’ve been lucky, I’ve been to lots of different places off the back of my work.

“But I have to say if I was thinking about training again now, I’m not so certain I would do it.

BOB 1
© Channel 4

“It’s a more pressured environment than it ever has been and I think that’s reflected in the strike ballots.

“I don’t think in my lifetime I’ve ever seen all branches of the health service balloting for strikes.”

He explained how current pressures are building because people are ‘medically fit for discharge’ in hospital but care packages are not available for them to leave.

Dr Winter said: “Three or four years ago we were talking about a four-hour target, now, being facetious, it’s more like a four-day target.

“We’ve got patients waiting for hours who can’t be moved on, that means ambulances can’t handover patients.

“Before an ambulance crew would do eight to 10 jobs in a shift, now they’re doing one or two jobs.

“When I started working here, the emergency department saw maybe 200 patients a day, now they are seeing over 600.”

Dr Winter said he thinks the “cheapest solution” to the problem is to “invest in the care sector and make it an attractive place to work”.

He added: “The older I get, the more likely I am to sample the product.

“There has been underinvestment in the care sector for years. The patients are older, the patients are sicker, and we are doing more extreme things to them.

“The increase in demand has not been matched with an increase in funding.”

During the episode of 24 hours in A&E, which airs on January 17, Bob went to an amber trauma call for a man who had been in a road accident.

He said: “Those of us who worked in the Emergency Department were asked if we wanted to be filmed and I was quite happy to do that.

“24 hours in A&E has always been very London-centric in the past, this was an opportunity to demonstrate that good stuff happens outside of London.

“Queens is the busiest major trauma centre by numbers in the UK so it was a good opportunity.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:

“We recognise the pressures the NHS is facing following the impact of the pandemic and are working tirelessly to ensure people get the care they need, backed by up to £14.1 billion additional funding for health and social care over the next two years.

“This winter, the government has provided an extra £500 million to speed up hospital discharge and free up beds – and the NHS is creating the equivalent of at least 7,000 more beds to help reduce A&E waits and get ambulances back on the road.”

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