NHS pressures like pre-pandemic “eternal winters” says SAM president

Following the release today (14 April) of the latest NHS performance data, Dr Susan Crossland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “This data shows pressure is high and growing despite the fall in Covid cases and this was prior to the country starting to come out of lockdown.

“Just this week the workload in acute medical units has felt to many like the pre-pandemic “eternal winters” we had been working through for too long. 

“The scale of pressure on the system is illustrated by the fact the number waiting more that 12 hours in an ED last month has doubled compared to March in 2019 pre-pandemic despite overall attendances and admissions being vastly reduced.

“For frontline staff this is a major stress after 14 months of Covid work preceded by years of escalating pressure and there is a concern hospital trusts will take their eye off the ball” as national directives push for a rapid ramping up of non-urgent care.”

Dr Nick Scriven, immediate past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, added: “It is becoming clearer that people with chronic illness, such as heart failure, have struggled on throughout the pandemic with community care but have now reached the limit of their endurance and now need hospital inpatient care. 

“Therefore it is imperative to rebuild face-to-face teams in the community as a matter of urgency as these are invaluable for patients with chronic diseases.

“We must put emphasis on the safe “flow” of patients through hospitals to effective discharge home to enable front door acute and emergency teams to do their jobs with manageable pressure on staff.

“While no-one wants to see waiting lists increase any further, the priority will always be to ensure the most sick and in need get their care promptly and safely.

“The job of government and NHS leaders is to make sure systems are in place across the board so that all patients are seen at the right place, by the right person at the right time to really effect change and we are not there yet.”