NHS struggling to cope with sustained surge in pressure

10 February 2017

The latest winter operational update from NHS England shows the NHS is under intense pressure with an average of 96% bed occupancy for the week ending 5 February. Statistics show A&E attendances were close to the highest levels this winter and a rise in emergency admissions.

Responding to the updated statistics, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said:

“These figures confirm what trusts have been telling us – that winter pressures have intensified again over the last two weeks, following two weeks at the end of January when performance stabilised. Trusts tell us that pressures mounted significantly last week, as these figures show, but that performance was slowly recovering this week.

“The sharp increase in trusts reporting serious operational pressures shows there is little or no spare capacity to cope. Bed occupancy is running at 96% – well above recommended levels for patient safety and the highest level so far this winter. That is very worrying.

The sharp increase in trusts reporting serious operational pressures shows there is little or no spare capacity to cope. Bed occupancy is running at 96 per cent – well above recommended levels for patient safety and the highest level so far this winter. That is very worrying.

“Today’s figures provide yet more evidence that the NHS is overstretched right across the system including hospitals, mental health and community trusts and ambulance services. Media coverage has tended to focus on hospital A&E departments and ambulance services but there is similar, less well reported, pressure on mental health beds and community facilities as well as on GPs and social care.

“Staff continue to give their all in extremely challenging circumstances. The NHS is treating more patients than ever. But we can not carry on like this.

“We welcome Jeremy Hunt’s public acknowledgement that the NHS is facing 'completely unacceptable' problems. He should also now acknowledge that the situation we see this winter is unsustainable and that we cannot try and manage next winter in the same way we have managed this winter. We need an urgent review of how the health and care system has handled this winter’s pressures to establish what lessons must be learned and what will be done differently next year. The review should be conducted rapidly and the results made public”.

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