latest health care news

15.09.17

DH slammed as trusts fail to hit targets even at peak of summer

Doctors have today slammed the government for “failing to grasp the seriousness” of the situation facing the NHS, as performance data for July and August showed key targets were still not being met.

As the health service prepares to enter what is expected to be a very difficult winter, NHS England statistics showed that though A&E attendances were down by 0.5% from August 2017, only 90.3% were admitted, transferred or discharged from A&E within four hours of arrival, below the standard of 95%.

Emergency admissions, however, went up by 3.4% from August last year, rising to almost half a million at 486,669.

Ambulance response targets were also shown to be slipping, with standards across Red 1, Red 2 and Category A calls not being reached.

But there were some positive signs. Delayed transfers of care (DTOCs) days were down from 181,692 in July 2017 compared to 184,578 in July 2016. This equates to a daily average of 5,861 DTOC beds in July last year, compared to 5,954 in July 2016.

Yet Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA council chair, still described the figures as “unacceptable”, arguing that they revealed the true scale of the crisis in the NHS at the moment which is naturally affecting the care of millions of patients daily.

“The crisis in the NHS is across the board – with a lack of hospital beds and services, A&E departments struggling because of an overstretched system, and GPs increasingly unable to get their patients treated within adequate timescales,” Dr Nagpaul explained.

“The figures today show this – A&E targets still aren’t being met, the number of people waiting more than 10 weeks for routine surgery is the highest it’s been in nine years and waits of a year or more are the second highest since 2012, shamefully breaching NHS constitution standards.”

The BMA chair added that problems at the hospital front door are also linked to delays at the back door, as a shortage of social care beds creates ‘exit block’ in hospitals – meaning patients who no longer need to be in hospital can’t be discharged because there is simply nowhere for them to go.

“This, together with a shortage of beds and a shortage of doctors, leads to delays in admissions and patients being forced to wait on trolleys or admitted to an inappropriate ward,” he argued.

“The government has so far failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation. The NHS isn’t at breaking point because of frontline financial mismanagement, or poor decision-making, but because of the conscious, and constant, underinvestment in our health service.

“We need the government to urgently look at the long-term funding, capacity and recruitment issues facing the system as a whole if we are to get to grips with the pressures the NHS faces year in, year out.”

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