May apologises over NHS winter crisis

Henrietta Strickland
January 13, 2018

But today's figures show bed availability has deteriorated, despite the annual ritual of opening thousands of "escalation" beds in preparation for the holiday period. And GPs are very anxious about patient safety and putting themselves in a professionally compromising situation - that is a significant concern for GPs these days. Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: "The position at the moment is as bad as I've ever known".

In the week between Christmas and New Year, Aylesbury's A&E was over 90% capacity every day.

Richard Murray, director of policy at health think-tank the King's Fund, said: "Although these weekly data have not been fully validated, if they are right then hospital bed occupancy - a good proxy for the pressure hospitals are under - has been at even higher levels than past year".

It follows a BBC News investigation last month which found a five-fold increase in patients in England waiting more than four hours for admission since 2011.

A number of ambulance services are also under severe pressure, with two even resorting to taxis to ferry patients to hospital.

The Independent revealed how these delays, and "inappropriate 999 calls" over the break had forced one region to send nurses as first responders to patients.

Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour health spokesman, said the increase in flu cases was "concerning" but "the rise in numbers of people being affected should not be used as an excuse by an SNP government which has left our NHS under-pressure and under-resourced".

Officials have estimated that this could lead to up to 55,000 deferred operations.

The NHS, which delivers free health care for all citizens in England, accounts for a third of government spending on public services, Reuters noted.

However The Independent spoke to two people cancelled, cancelled at very short notice. A total of 172 were delayed by between 30 minutes and one hour, while 24 were held up for longer than an hour.

"That seems pretty short notice to me", he said.

A spokesperson for Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, which runs Broomfield Hospital, said in a statement: "The trust declared an internal significant incident yesterday as a result of the very high demand for our services that we have experienced over the extended holiday period, in common with hospitals across the whole country".

The trust was named among at least 16 NHS trusts that have been put on the most sever level of operational pressure over the last week.

"Patient safety remains our top priority". Each winter the pressure on the NHS worsens, and politicians are not taking the long-term view needed to ensure the NHS can keep up with rising demand.

Furthermore, it saw the busiest Christmas Day and Boxing Day ever with 433 people attending A&E - up from 343 previous year.

This was the worst example of frequent callers which cost the overstretched NHS almost £20 million a year. They include deferring all elective surgeries until February, allowing hospitals to open mixed-sex wards, and turning prospective emergency-room patients away if they are not seriously ill.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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