Following the release of NHS performance data for December, Dr Mark Holland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said:
“December performance for A&E departments in England was the subject of extensive debate when the NHS teetered on the brink of collapse during the first week of January and this data confirms the grave situation we faced. Things have improved very slightly, although we are still seeing significant pockets of stress in the system that limit the care we aspire to deliver.
“Therefore, the Society for Acute Medicine yet again calls on the Secretary of State for Health to acknowledge the crisis. It is blatantly obvious to frontline healthcare workers and, more importantly, the patients they serve, that our NHS can no longer cope. Our national audit from June 2016 showed that, year-on-year, our performance in acute medicine is decreasing, while the national scandal of social care provision is recognised by a number of independent agencies.
“Over the last decade, demand for emergency care has risen while hospital beds have continued to close. There is a clear story of decline that nearly everyone can see. Jeremy Hunt has previously, and very rightly, highlighted the need to maintain safety and quality in the wake of the Mid-Staffs experience. However, when as professionals we put our hands up and fulfill our responsibility to “say this is not working”, the response from our government is left wanting; we all feel let down.
“We agree that social and traditional healthcare need to be more closely aligned and that care is best delivered in the community. The problem is that the move to community-based services has so far been associated with care moving towards hospitals, not away. Is it not a risk, we would argue a reckless risk, to try and reform the NHS in England by closing beds and adopting a methodology that has failed to provide solutions?
“This winter our NHS is still precariously positioned. Simon Stevens, CEO of the NHS, suggests 2018 might be the worst year. We now say enough is enough. The NHS is about to implode. The truth of the crisis is clear now, the future looks worse. People in England are today receiving acute medical care in corridors and we feel that is a scandal. Yes, in 2017 we are caring for our sickest and most vulnerable people in corridors.”