NHS won’t cope with winter pressures, healthcare leaders fear

CREDIT: This story was first seen in OnMedica

Nine out of 10 health and care leaders across England are “concerned” about their organisation’s ability to cope with winter pressures, with nearly two thirds (62%) saying they are “extremely concerned,” reveals a poll from the NHS Confederation.

OnMedica reports that as health and care organisations prepare for what is likely to be another tough winter, NHS Confederation chief, Niall Dickson declared: “The  health and care system in England is in a fragile state and it is fair to say many organisations will struggle to meet expectations over the next few months.

“Last year it was said that the service was ‘just about coping’, but for many of our members this year looks more challenging. Not only is there the prospect of ongoing pressure, high bed occupancy, and [delayed transfer of care] blockages in flow, but the worry too of a serious flu attack combined with bad weather.”

He added: “NHS improvement data shows A&E attendances and admissions are continuing to rise – with a 25.9% jump in responses to time-critical and life-threatening ambulance calls.

“Hospitals and emergency departments are simply not able to recruit the staff they need. In some respects, of course, the annual winter crisis is now an all-year round crisis with some additional and serious pressures over the next period.”

Effective planning at local level was vital, he insisted, with co-operation between all parts of the system, including commissioners, social care, all parts of the hospital, as well as community and primary care absolutely essential.

“NHS trusts, health service commissioners and health and care providers are increasingly facing difficult choices over service provision and staff capacity,” he warned.

“We will continue to push the government for a comprehensive review looking at which services are needed, where they are needed, how much they will cost and how they will be funded,” he said.

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“The budget in November will be an opportunity for the government to underline its support for the NHS and social care system. Any additional money must be carefully targeted to produce the greatest benefit,” he insisted. “The focus should be on additional out-of-hospital provision to free up beds in hospitals.”

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