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NHS funding ‘welcome but more than sticking plasters needed’, say senior medics

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement today of a £3bn investment in the NHS to prepare for a possible second wave of coronavirus and to help ease winter pressures, Dr Susan Crossland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM), said:

”While this funding announcement is welcome, the government is constantly playing catch up with its funding of the NHS, often providing sticking plasters due to long-term neglect in terms of investment in staffing and infrastructure as well as social care provision.

“The squeeze on acute and emergency care has suffered from all of the above and notably the total number of beds in England, which has more than halved over the past 30 years overall and by 34% in general and acute beds.

“It is therefore no surprise we see overnight bed occupancy constantly well above safe levels in winter at more than 95% and this will be a major area of focus this year in particular with the additional threat of a second wave of Covid.“

Dr Nick Scriven, immediate past president of SAM, added: “Along with the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, we this week released 10 recommendations which we hope the government and NHS leaders think about seriously.

“We are also pushing the advantages of same day emergency care (SDEC) which we estimate could potentially save more than 50,000 overnight admissions over autumn and winter if just a third of patients receive their first assessment in SDEC.

“This is a prime time to start looking at how we can make better use of the innovations already available to us and SDEC presents a simple but effective solution to bed capacity – but it requires investment and a national commitment to drive it forward and this announcement opens up the possibility of us progressing in this area.”

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