Hospital admission data may provide ‘wake-up call at last’ – SAM president

Following the release today of statistics on all hospital admissions in England in 2018-19 by NHS Digital, Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said:

“This data confirms and reiterates all the monthly statistics in the NHS and, if nothing else, may at last provide a wake-up call for those in charge that the current state of affairs is grim reading and there needs to be urgent action as it is clearly unsustainable.

“On top of this today we have already had notice from the Royal College of Nursing this week that the number of nurses in post in no way matches the demand.

“Now we have the data that shows regarding ‘non-elective’ (i.e. emergency) admissions there has been a 3% increase on last year and a staggering 21% increase in the last 10 while the best you could say regarding bed numbers is that the rate of decline has slowed from the previous decade of cuts.

“While there is a focus here on emergency work, there is a similar rise in the number of people who have been admitted for elective procedures over this time.

“Many people, including the Society for Acute Medicine, have been saying the number of people needing care – elective and emergency – does not tally with the number of beds we have in the system and something will have to give.

“For our sickest people the increase of those needing critical care admission has also jumped by 22% since 2011-12 so that in the last year there were over 290,000 people needing this level of care.

“Last winter we saw the effect of this with some people being moved from hospital to hospital while at their most fragile state to get the treatment they needed.

“The acute sector of the NHS has performed miracles year-on-year with units just about coping by opening ‘extra’ beds at times of utmost stress at a significant cost financially and to staff resilience but, this year, as there has been no appreciable decline during the summer, a lot of units already have those beds open and full with now nowhere to go if/when we see any slight surge in demand.

“I am not certain how many times we can look at figures like these, raise our concerns and be faced by seemingly no response or action from those who are charged with taking responsibility for the NHS.

“We need someone to stand up and look at the here-and-now rather than what might make a technological difference in 10 years’ time.”