Following the release today of key features of the NHS ten-year plan ahead of its publication tomorrow (Monday), Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said:
“While any plans to improve services across the NHS are always welcome, I am staggered that the key priorities released a day early by the Prime Minister overlooked acute and emergency care and hospital capacity.
“What is particularly ironic is that the government and NHS leaders have chosen to preview a ten-year plan omitting this area on the weekend traditionally the most difficult on the frontline.
“The full plan to be released tomorrow will come on the day many health systems will be on black alert – the highest level of pressure on hospitals – so here’s hoping all will change.
“The reason being, having already delayed this plan from the summer until now, there has – so far – been minimal focus on the scale of the near-on impossible task hospitals face in managing increasing demand while faced with decreasing capacity, funding issues and a recruitment crisis.
“The harsh reality right now is that the NHS is at least 3,100 beds short of what it required last winter, more than 45% of consultant posts are unfilled along with 11.6% of nursing posts and the proposed green paper on social care is nowhere to be seen.
“Today’s lack of acknowledgement of how we effectively tackle the eternal winter in the NHS and its associated problems is indicative of how acute and emergency care is the poor relation when it comes to priorities.
“We await further details of the plan tomorrow to discover if there is better focus, though the promised workforce report and social care green paper will be integral to determining if a sustainable future can ever be reached and that won’t happen for some time.”