Senior medic warns of ‘significant problem’ ahead of winter

Following the release of the latest NHS performance data, Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “Performance against A&E targets are among the worst on record, emergency admissions have risen and the number of cancelled operations has risen.

“Add this to the fact we are going into winter in exactly the same state as last year with high bed occupancy rates – more than 15,000 patients in hospital for more than 21 days and more than 2,500 extra beds already in use – we have a significant problem.

“After decades of bed reductions there are simply not enough appropriately staffed beds available to meet the current demand and this has many serious knock-on effects for patients.

“We have consistently raised this issue publicly for more than 18 months and highlighted it is now common both in summer as well as winter.

“So far, the Department of Health and Social Care has seemed unwilling to engage with us to try to formulate a plan but we clearly need urgent action to address the risk to acute and elective care.

“We would again put a call out to the health secretary to ask him to meet with us so we can all understand the issues collectively and try to work together for the good of our patients.

“We are heading into yet another winter season without much of a plan beyond influenza vaccinations and a promise of finance that may not actually reach the areas it would be designed to help in a useful time-frame.”

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