NHS Providers responds to "alarming stress" on urgent and emergency care services

19 January 2023

Responding to the winter situation reports from NHS England today, which show extremely high levels of bed occupancy and delayed discharges, Saffron Cordery, interim chief executive at NHS Providers said:

"Urgent and emergency care services are under alarming levels of stress. This is particularly concerning given trust leaders are already bending over backwards to manage myriad mounting pressures including strike action.

"Bed occupancy remains very high with nearly 19 in 20 beds occupied in general and acute wards. Staff are incredibly concerned that this could impact patient care as those levels are far above what's safe. More beds are desperately needed.

"This problem is compounded by the fact that every day, more than 14,000 medically fit patients cannot leave hospital given a need to invest more in capacity in social care and community services. The £250m announced by the government to free up beds is welcome given the urgent need to ease pressures, but this needs to reach the frontline without delay.

"Trust leaders are doing all they can to ensure safe, high-quality care for patients. It is testament to their efforts and commitment that they have brought down elective care waiting lists in recent weeks, and it's encouraging to see ambulance handover delays reduce. However, much more needs to be done to shore up urgent and emergency care.

"The government needs to publish a fully funded and costed workforce plan to address the huge staff shortages. To avert more disruptive strikes, they must sit down urgently with the unions to talk about pay for this financial year."

You can follow our analysis of the latest winter figures from NHS England through our NHS Winter Watch campaign.