NHS ‘not yet out of the winter woods’ despite improved performance

4 Jan 19

The NHS is “not yet in the clear” this winter despite performing better than last year, a membership organisation has warned.

Data from NHS England showed performance improvements compared to the same time last year but Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, warned that the worst could be yet to come.

The data showed that the average occupancy rate among general and acute beds between 24 – 30 December was 87.5%, down from 92% in the same period last year.

Mortimer said: “The NHS has delivered significant improvements on last year’s performance and that’s welcome news for patients and the public. But the NHS is not yet in the clear as the toughest days often come later in the winter when severe cold weather, flu and norovirus can strike.

“We have yet to experience the same pressure as last year but it’s clear that the NHS is in better shape this winter to respond.”

He added that ambulance delays and bed occupancy rates were both down as well as fewer A&Es diverting patients.

There were 32 A&E diverts between 17 – 30 December, down from 45 in the same period last year.

Miriam Deakin, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said: “The figures for the Christmas period show that preparations put in place by trusts for this winter, and the dedication and hard wok of NHS staff, mean the service has coped well with a very busy couple of weeks.

“The next couple of weeks will be important to get a real sense of how well the service copes with any further spikes in demand. A surge in cold weather or flu now could still have a real impact on a health and care system that is running consistently at high capacity.”

This week, NHS England calculated that missed GP appointments were costing the NHS £216m every year.

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