Hospital Dr News

New figures show NHS in “precarious position” to meet demands of next three months

Winter has hardly started for the NHS despite the apparent crisis and release of more damning statistics.

This is the conclusion of one leading health expert, who says the NHS faces another three months of high demand for care.

New NHS England figures reveal that 16,900 people had to wait in an ambulance for at least 30 minutes before being seen at A&E, while 4,700 were forced to wait for more than an hour.

The number of patients waiting half an hour jumped up from 11,900 the previous week.

In addition, there was a record high in non-emergency calls – 480,000 – to the NHS 111 hotline in the week ending December 31.

Ambulance crews should be able to hand patients over to A&E staff within 15 minutes of arrival at hospital, and not doing so increases the risk to patients due to delays in diagnosis and treatment.

Tens of thousands of non-urgent operations and routine outpatient appointments have been shelved by NHS England to ease the winter pressures on hospitals.

Bed occupancy rates climbed as high as 93.5% on New Year’s Eve, up from 86.7% on Christmas Day, according to the data, with an average of 91.7% across the week.

In the previous week hospitals had reported bed occupancy levels of 90.9% – above the recommended safe limit of 85%.

But, the Nuffield Trust’s Chief Economist, Professor John Appleby, warns that this week could just be the start of high, ongoing demand.

He said: “Clearly the NHS is under tremendous pressure at the moment, and staff are struggling to maintain the standards of care they want to deliver. Today’s statistics show high occupancy of beds, and more ambulances queuing than before with almost one in five now held up for more than half an hour.

“The sobering reality is that winter for the NHS has hardly started. The service is likely to face another three months of exceptional need for care, and it is starting from a precarious position. There is an underlying mismatch between the capacity to deliver care and the level of care patients require.”

Sir Vince Cable, the Lib Dem leader, called for more resources for the NHS.

He said: “Every day seems to bring yet more bad news about the state of the health service. The blame lies firmly at the government’s door.

“Ministers refused to provide the funding top NHS officials said was necessary and now patients are paying the price.

“It’s time to give the NHS and care the extra cash they desperately need, by putting a penny on income tax to raise an extra £6bn a year.”

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One Response to “New figures show NHS in “precarious position” to meet demands of next three months”

  1. danmac says:

    Perhaps if less money was spent by trusts gagging whistleblowers, running organised hate campaigns against staff to get them out of their jobs, eliminating fraud (amongst plenty of doctors too let’s be honest here) or wasting huge sums bringing decent parents to court (Charlie Gard) there might be funding left to address many of the problems. We can’t just blame politicians all the time when we are just as guilty of wasting huge sums of money.

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