Festive period sees pressures grow across health and care services
04 January 2018
- NHS England publishes weekly performance data for 25 – 31 December
- Data shows bed occupancy rates rising, while the number of ambulances arriving at A&E departments reaches highest point this winter
- We say despite planning more meticulously than ever before, the level of demand for services means severe pressures remain across the health and care system
NHS England has published week 5 of its weekly NHS winter performance data, covering 25 – 31 December. The latest figures show bed occupancy rate steadily rise throughout the week and remains well above recommended safe levels. The level peaked at 93.5% on New Year’s Eve.
It also revealed:
- A total of 39 A&E diverts were put in place.
- Ambulance arrivals at a total of 97,706 – the highest so far this winter
- Ambulance delays at high levels - 17.3% delayed over 30 minutes (16,900) and 4.8% delayed over 60 minutes (4700)
Responding to the latest NHS England winter performance figures, the director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery said:
"The figures reflect what we are hearing from the NHS front line that despite planning more meticulously than ever before, the level of demand for services means severe pressures remain across the health and care system.
"Overall bed occupancy remains well above recommended safe levels, but would almost certainly be significantly higher without the extensive preparations put in place to deal with winter pressures. Ambulance services are under strain with delays at high levels, and 39 A&E diverts in place this week. This coupled with the highest number of ambulance arrivals this winter has a knock on effect for A&E departments.
"NHS trusts are telling us that respiratory problems, flu and norovirus are making an impact. This mixed with GPs under real pressure creates serious problems for trusts.
The health service must focus first on those patients who need help most, though we recognise the inconvenience and distress this will cause for many people whose procedures will be delayed.
"This is why we welcomed sensible and proportionate recommendations from the National Emergency Planning Panel. The health service must focus first on those patients who need help most, though we recognise the inconvenience and distress this will cause for many people whose procedures will be delayed.
"Although these measures will help keep patients safe in the short-term, it will have an impact on the service's ability to meet waiting time targets. And cancelled operations and outpatient appointments will also result in less income for NHS trusts, which will make it harder for many trusts to meet their financial targets. We must square this circle as part of a longer-term plan which is realistic about what the service can deliver with the funding and resources available. We must learn lessons from this winter."