Hospital Dr News

NHS has reached tipping point and services are unsustainable, say NHS leaders

The pressure on the NHS is now at unsustainable levels and patient safety and care are being put at risk by staff shortages, according to a poll of NHS leaders by the NHS Confederation.

NHS leaders in England warn that we have reached a tipping point, with nearly nine in 10 (88%) saying the demands on their organisation are unsustainable. Almost the same number (87%) also say that a lack of staffing in the NHS as a whole is putting patient safety and care at risk.

The greatest areas of concern are primary care and urgent and emergency care, according to the survey of 451 leaders across hospitals, ambulance services, mental health providers, community services, primary care and integrated care systems.

This comes at a time of record levels of demand on A&E departments, increasing bed occupancy rates, more patients stuck in hospital due to a lack of social care places available for them, and large increases in ambulance handover delays.  

When asked what one measure would help reduce pressure on the NHS as we head into winter, the most endorsed recommendation from NHS leaders is for the Government to provide extra support for social care.

They recommend this be targeted at ensuring effective discharge arrangements are in place so that people can live more independently in care homes or in their own homes.

This comes as reports that one in five beds in some hospitals are currently being occupied by patients who are medically fit to be discharged, but for whom there is no care package available so that they can leave hospital. 

Community services are also under enormous pressure supporting people at home and in care homes that lack the social care staff needed. 

Extra social care support

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said: “The Government must take every step possible to prevent the NHS from plunging into crisis. The number one measure that Ministers could take now is to provide extra funding and support to social care services.

“This includes making more money available to increase the wages of care assistants to help fill staffing vacancies and to increase their fuel duty allowance so that more care staff are persuaded back into the sector.”

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