Senior doctors at an NHS trust have been accused of avoiding menial work despite the hospital “exceeding” its ICU capacity.
A letter sent to medical consultants at the University Hospitals Birmingham told staff the trusts’ priority was ICU patients “at the expense of dropping all activities”.
“We cannot let patients die because we can’t admit them to ITU,” the letter, seen by the HSJ, said.
It added that medical consultants’ time must be “accounted for” and all DCC (director clinical care time) and SPA (standard professional activity time) must be utilised.
“Redeployment does not mean you are necessarily expected to do medical ITU but to form part of the bedside team to assist in tasks that we are all capable of delivering,” the letter, from the medical director of clinical care, said.
It added the trust was “reaching the point” whereby consultants may have to provide proof of their work.
The HSJ said the letter detailed “anecdotal” incidents of junior doctors covering for consultants after they had completed their rounds and said this cannot continue.
Setting out the pressure the hospital was currently facing the letter said: “I don’t need to remind all about the COVID situation.
“The headline is that we are continuing to ramp [up] and have exceeded our ITU capacity. To give you an idea, ITU beds are now four stacked in [a] space of two. Nursing staff are having to look after complex very demanding critically ill patients, with a ratio of 1:3 unlike the standard 1:1…”
When approached for a response the trust said they would not comment “internal operational emails”.