Health Service in Risk in UK for Winter Crisis

NHS hospitals told to take drastic measures amid winter crisis, otherwise it could be crippled by its worst winter in recent history, with health bosses warning they have “insufficient capacity” to meet extra expected demand.

NHS Providers, the trade association that represents hospital, mental health, community and ambulance service trusts in England, has called for an emergency cash injection of between £200m and £350m to enable the NHS to manage patient safety risk in the winter months.

The NHS is reeling under what doctors’ leaders and hospital chiefs say is the most intense strain it has faced in decades as a result of flu, bad weather and more patients suffering breathing problems.

But despite this, the overwhelming view of NHS trusts is that without immediate extra funding they will not have sufficient capacity to manage this winter safely.

This risk has been heightened because, in many areas, the £1billion of extra support for social care announced in the Budget will not ease winter pressures on the NHS, as the Government had planned.

It added that demand for emergency care is continuing its “inexorable rise”, key staff shortages are growing and primary and social care capacity, remains “very challenged”.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “Last winter the health service came under pressure as never before. At its height, the NHS had to provide 4,500 additional beds a day – equivalent to more than eight extra hospitals.

Patients will therefore be put at greater risk as local trusts won’t have the extra beds, staff and services they need to meet the extra demand they will face. The only way to mitigate these risks is through an urgent NHS cash injection to ensure the NHS has the necessary capacity this winter.”

>Juthy Saha