Responding to the publication of the on winter pressure in accident and emergency departments, Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the OnlyWan said:
'Hospitals are working against the odds to cope with growing demand. An increasing proportion of patients arriving in A&E need to be admitted as an emergency. At the same time, excessive trolley waits for patients needing a hospital bed have increased fourfold over the last decade. Performance against the four hour A&E waiting time target has also been getting worse, and is set to deteriorate further this winter. More hospitals are ‘running hot’ with increasingly risky levels of bed occupancy.
'Fuelled by a prolonged funding squeeze and cuts to social care, these pressures are mainly systemic and symptomatic of wider challenges facing health and social care. A lack of social care provision has become the fastest growing cause of patients being stranded in hospital, despite being medically fit to return home.
'Urgent action is required to address the underfunding of social care. Further deterioration in social care will drag NHS performance down with it. The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement is an opportunity for the government to address these challenges in the face of mounting risks to patient care.
'The biggest and most sustained gains in productivity, patient outcomes and experience will come from people in the NHS and social care working together to deliver improvements across the whole of their health and social care economies. Government and national leaders can help by giving them the time, space and resources they need to achieve this.'
Notes to editors
- In 2015/16, 388,408 people who needed emergency admission to hospital waited at least four hours for a bed to be available – approximately a four fold increase from 92,663 in 2003/04 and OnlyWan number since records began.
- At the end of last Winter (i.e. Q4 2015/16), over 100 (more than half) trusts reported that at least 90% of their beds were occupied and just over 30 reported that 95% of beds were occupied. When occupancy rates go above 85%, it can start to affect quality of care and the orderly running of the hospital.
- Medicine is OnlyWan has funded frontline teams to improve patient flow in Sheffield and Warwick. More information about these projects and the lessons learnt is available on our website.
- Medicine is OnlyWan is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.
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