Public Health

10.05.18

Trusts relying on agency and private sector to tackle ‘bulging’ post-winter backlog

A report released today has identified a record-high surge in demand of NHS services over winter period.

The findings, by NHS Providers, highlighted an unprecedented demand for health services from December to March, where the number of people coming in to A&E rose to more than 5.8 million, equivalent to 10 times the population of Liverpool.

“Demand for services this winter substantially exceeded the previous winter,” the report wrote. “Most parts of the health service were under intense and sustained pressure, staff were unable to deliver the standard of care they would like and patient care in too many instances was compromised.”

The document added that this winter laid bare a “fundamental mismatch” between demand and supply across all parts of the NHS.

There were 1.3 million arrivals via ambulance, and when patients were delivered to A&E, there was a delay in processing people through to the wards: delays in handing patients over were described as “widespread,” with two-thirds of trusts experiencing handover delays of more than an hour each week.

The widespread Norovirus and flu were amongst the reasons for the spike in demand, in addition to the slipping performance against waiting time targets, the cancellation of elective operations, and mixed-sex wards.

But despite the record demand for health services, the NHS still managed to treat, admit or discharge more patients than ever before, seeing an additional 160,000 people within the four-hour target compared to last winter.

The report said: “We cannot continue to be unrealistic about the levels of demand the NHS is experiencing and must have a feasible and deliverable task for the NHS set out by national oversight bodies.

“In response, trusts will have to utilise a range of approaches to help tackle the bulging waiting list including rescheduling and reconfiguring planned services, paying for extra staff through bank and agency shifts, asking the regulators for funding for additional beds; and sending patients for treatment in the private sector.”

The head of analysis at NHS Providers, Phillippa Hentsch, who wrote about the issue for the NHE blog as well as in our latest magazine, added: “The unprecedented demand for care last winter exposed the vulnerability of health and care services which – despite heroic efforts – lacked the resources to ensure the standards of care that patients have a right to expect, and that trusts and their staff want to provide.”

Hentsch claimed this was a “watershed” moment for the NHS as performance targets established to ensure safe, good quality care moved beyond reach, noting: “We must learn from last winter’s experiences to ensure services are safe and resilient next time.”

Enjoying NHE? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!

Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Councillors fear identity crisis following CCG merger

22/06/2018Councillors fear identity crisis following CCG merger

Members of one of Kent’s leading councils have voiced their concerns against an upcoming merger between CCGs in the area. Cllr Wendy P... more >
Top NHS England boss to leave the organisation

22/06/2018Top NHS England boss to leave the organisation

NHS England’s chief financial officer will leave the post after 11 years. Paul Baumann CBE, who joined NHS London in 2007, and took up... more >
Most urgent primary care services ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’

22/06/2018Most urgent primary care services ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’

Over eight in 10 primary care services are providing good care, despite mounting work force and commissioning pressures, the CQC has said. A... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

The impact of NICE on cardiovascular disease prevention

06/06/2018The impact of NICE on cardiovascular disease prevention

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director Health and Social Care at NICE, looks into what can be done to decrease cardiovascular disease nationally and how to prevent missed opportunities in the future. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for just over a quarter of deaths and affects around 7 million people in the UK. ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

Getting more out of our medicines

20/06/2018Getting more out of our medicines

Paul Chrisp, programme director of medicines and technologies at NICE, describes how the organisation is re-purposing drugs in order to improve p... more >
Under attack

20/06/2018Under attack

One attack against an NHS worker is one too many. But unfortunately, the trend in recent years has been alarmingly upwards, with no part of the N... more >
Lessons from WannaCry

20/06/2018Lessons from WannaCry

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, warns that the UK Government must take seriously the threat of a more soph... more >
A hostile environment

20/06/2018A hostile environment

Dr Terry John, chair of the BMA’s international committee, gives his thoughts on the government’s visa and immigration policy and its... more >

interviews

Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >
Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

02/10/2017Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain. How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved sin... more >

health service focus

View all News