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Greater integration needed to ‘break cycle’ of poor NHS performance

The government must incentivise greater collaboration between the NHS and councils in order to “break the cycle” of dwindling provider performance, NHS Confederation has said as stark performance figures for June were released.

Stephen Dalton, the confederation’s interim chief executive, recognised that frontline staff are working “flat out and deserve recognition”, but said unless the same cycle is broken, “performance results will continue to follow this downward trend”.

“The recent and important relaxation of some targets, and of the penalties for missing them, will give many hospitals much-needed opportunity,” he added. “We now need the government to incentivise greater coordination between local authorities and the NHS and to invest more in out-of-hospital health and care.”

The figures, which Dalton said is further proof that the NHS is under strain to maintain timely access to high standards of care, showed just 90.5% of patients were admitted, transferred or discharged from A&E within the four-hour target, below the 95% standard – which hasn’t been met in years.

This comes just over a month after the Royal College of Nursing warned crisis-level pressures had become the ‘new normal’ in hospitals, with a number of A&E departments declaring ‘black’ status.

It also comes just two days after a Merseyside CCG proposed banning all non-urgent referrals made by GPs during winter months in an effort to ease the pressure on hospitals – a plan which was met with widespread criticism.

Ambulance response times were also worse than in the previous month, with just 69.2% of Red 1 calls answered within the designated timeframe – below the 75% standard and May’s 70.5% figure. Just 62.9% of Red 2 calls were answered on time, a standard that has not been met since January 2014.

Across delayed transfers of care, June’s figures hit the highest number since data was first collected in August 2010 – over 171,000 delayed days compared to less than 140,000 the same time last year.

Cancer standards were slightly more positive, with six of the eight standards being met, despite the 62-day waiting time target only being reached in 82.7% of cases, below the 85% target.

But despite the negative figures, which have been on a consistent downturn recently branded a ‘wake-up call’ for the NHS, the Department of Health defend June’s performance. Despite shortages in specific A&Es, a spokesman said, there were 1,250 more doctors working in emergency departments compared to 2010.

“The NHS had its busiest June ever, but hospitals are performing well with nine out of 10 people seen in A&E within four hours – almost 60,000 people per day seen within the standard,” he added.

(Top image c. Peter Byrne)


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M   15/08/2016 at 13:36

I agree that there needs to be better integration. If you look at Northumbria Health Care they work with the LAs closely and due to this have a true DToC rate of 0%. Yes there are issues in the trust with ambulance handover delays which is due to a massive reconfiguration of U&EC services and the opening of its new hospital and the trust and ambulance service are working together to tackle these

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