Sarah Wollaston urges government to get a grip on NHS 'crisis'

Henrietta Brewer
January 14, 2018

Authorities have told hospitals to defer routine outpatient appointments and focus on emergencies, the BBC reports.

Staff are working under incredible pressure to look after the patients in our care.

Cancer operations and procedures that are time-critical will continue as usual, officials emphasized.

In a drastic step to try to free up hospital staff and beds, NHS England also said the deferral of non-urgent inpatient elective care, such as hip replacements, should be extended until January 31.

She said nearly 8m hospital appointments were missed every year - not including appointments cancelled in advance - which equated to nearly £1bn, with each outpatient appointment costing the NHS about £120 in 2016-17.

Milton Keynes hospital admitted that it was under "extreme and sustained pressure" because of the "very high" number of patients turning up and needing to be treated as medical emergencies.

Elective or non-urgent procedures were due to resume at the three hospitals but have now been postponed for the rest of the week due to the increased pressure on services.

Clinical commissioning groups have been told to suspend the sanctions normally imposed on hospitals for mixed accommodation in single gender wards.

The service has noted a higher number of flu cases this year and can only hope that its own warnings about an outbreak don't come true. "The NHS needs to take further action to increase capacity and minimise disruptive last minute cancellations".

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that the NHS is experiencing "enormous pressure", and that this decision reflects that.

That is why we are making these further recommendations today.

He said it was "absolutely not" what he wanted but the move was "needed given the pressure hospitals are under during the busiest week of the year for the NHS".

Dickson continued: "In many ways the health service in England is better prepared than ever before, but that does not prevent a situation where hospitals are having to cope with unsafe levels of bed occupancy.

Their staff can offer advice as to the best place to get the right care".

Now, Labour's shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, stated: "As the NHS enters its 70th year, the truth is that Tory neglect has left it underfunded, understaffed and overstretched".

Attending booked appointments is a "small but effective" way to help, she said.

However, Unite's national officer for health, Sarah Carpenter, said the Government has "put the NHS in intensive care" by failing to provide sufficient funding to secure its future.

Other reports by iNewsToday