Winter pressures on NHS appear to be growing

17 Jan 19

Health groups have warned winter pressures are mounting on the NHS as official stats have shown a growth in the demand for emergency services.

NHS England weekly ‘sit-rep’ data, published today, has shown the number of times an ambulance had to be diverted to a second A&E because the first was full to capacity nearly doubled from the first to the second week of January, rising from 17 to 38.

The number of patients arriving at hospitals in England remained high - at around 14,000 arrivals every day, according to the data.

A growing number of beds have been closed due to norovirus, with the number jumping from 2,397 in the first week of January to 4,318 in the second.

Miriam Deakin, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said: “The demand for ambulance services remains exceptionally high, with around 14,100 arrivals at hospital each day.

“As a result of the pressures inside and outside hospitals, delays in handing over patients to A&E departments are beginning to grow. This is a clear indicator that winter pressure is mounting throughout the health and care system.”

Deakin also noted that trusts have told NHS Providers that people are arriving at hospital are sicker, requiring more complex care.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, noted that ambulance delays of 30-60 minutes are down, as are bed occupancy rates but warned of further pressures.

He said: “[The improvement in ambulance delay times] is not a signal to get out the bunting, the threat of winter still remains and some areas of the country are struggling, with several dozen A&E diverts, ambulances struggling to meet demand and beds closed due to norovirus.

“If the NHS is going to tackle winter pressure properly and meet its targets, there can’t be any area left behind. We need to share learning and best practice from places that are succeeding – and ensure that local systems that are struggling get the support they need.”

Earlier this month, NHS England estimated that missed GP appointments cost the NHS £216m every year.

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