NHS £20bn boost risks being spent to pay off debts, experts warn

From The Guardian: Theresa May is being urged to write off almost £12bn in overspending by hospitals or risk her £20bn NHS boost being spent on debt repayment rather than improving healthcare.

NHS experts are warning that promised expansions of cancer and mental healthcare will prove impossible because a large amount of the £20bn that the prime minister pledged this year will go to the NHS by 2023-24 will be used servicing historic debts.

The debts “are a millstone which has to be removed from around the neck of the NHS”, said Peter Carter, an ex-chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing. “Having to service the debt will significantly compromise the impact of the 3.4% [annual NHS budget rises May has pledged until 2023] to such an extent that new money will not enable the NHS to modernise; it will in effect help the NHS to stand still.”

“The impact of writing off the debt will have minimal effect on the national debt but will have a major impact on the ability of the NHS to maximise the new investment the government is promising”, added Carter. The NHS in England overspent by £4.3bn last year, while the 240 NHS trusts owe the Department of Health and Social Care £7.4bn in outstanding historic loans. NHS finance experts from the King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust thinktanks blamed the debt pile on persistent NHS underfunding of the NHS.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

‘Worst ever’ July A&E performance shows collapse in NHS standards under Theresa May

From Morning Star: Latest figures on A&E waiting times reveal the “astonishing” collapse in NHS standards under Theresa May, Labour said today.

Monthly statistics for July 2018 published by #NHS England show that just 89.3 per cent of people attending A&E were seen within four hours, well below the 95 per cent target.

That dismal performance means NHS England has consistently failed to meet the 95 per cent four-hour target — lowered from 98 per cent by the coalition government — since July 2015.

The number of people attending A&E in July 2018 also hit a record 2.176 million people in July 2018, the highest figure since records began in 2010.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

NHS operation waiting lists reach 10-year high at 4.3m patients

From The Guardian: The number of patients waiting for an operation on the NHS has reached 4.3 million, the highest total for 10 years, official figures show.

Growing numbers are having to wait more than the supposed maximum of 18 weeks for planned non-urgent surgery such as a cataract removal or hip or knee replacement.

In May, for example, 211,434 patients had been on the waiting list for more than six months, up from the 197,067 who were in that position a month before and up by almost half compared to a year earlier, the NHS England data shows.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

‘Shocking’ rise in coroner warnings over NHS patient deaths, says Labour

From The Guardian: The number of legal warnings issued by coroners over patient deaths in England attributed to NHS resourcing issues has risen by 40% in three years.

There were 42 prevention of future death reports (PFDs) relating to issues such as lack of beds, staff shortages and insufficiently trained agency staff in 2016 compared with 30 in 2013.

Coroners have a statutory duty to make reports to a person, organisation, local authority or government department or agency where the coroner believes that action should be taken to prevent future deaths.

Labour, which compiled the figures, blamed the increase on the government’s austerity policies.

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Cancer patient waited 541 days for NHS treatment, report says

From The Guardian: The longest waits for cancer treatment in England have soared since 2010, with one patient waiting 541 days, analysis suggests.

Two-thirds of NHS trusts reported having at least one cancer patient waiting more than six months last year, while almost seven in 10 (69%) trusts said they had a worse longest wait than in 2010. This was reflected in the average longest wait rising to 213 days – 16 days longer than in the year the Conservatives entered government.

The official target requires at least 85% of cancer patients to have their first treatment within 62 days of referral by their GP, but this has not been met for 27 months in a row.

More than 100,000 people have waited more than two months for treatment to start since the target was first missed in January 2014.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

NHS England suffers worst A&E waiting times on record

From Sky News: A&E performance fell to the lowest level on record in March as the NHS continues to face unprecedented pressure. Just 84.6% of accident and emergency patients in England were seen within four hours last month, dropping from 85% in February and compared to 90% in March 2017. And the number of people suffering waits of more than 12 hours more than tripled, compared to the same month the year before. Medics said the backlog created by the situation would leave some hospitals struggling to catch up. President of the Society for Acute Medicine Nick Scriven called the figures the “clearest indication yet of the eternal winter we now face in the NHS” and urged a turning point in planning.

[Read full article on Sky News website…]

Capacity to handle 999 calls at risk, warns London ambulance service

From The Guardian: Britain’s busiest NHS ambulance service may no longer be able to answer all 999 calls quickly enough because its control rooms are chronically short of call handlers, it has warned.

The London ambulance service (LAS) disclosed this week that its capacity to respond to medical emergencies has been under threat because of a 20% shortfall in its control room staff.

Campaigners for patients have voiced alarm over the findings, saying the risk to the service could lead to people dying of strokes or heart attacks because an ambulance has taken longer than it should to reach them.

The Patients Association said the LAS’s inability to recruit enough staff posed a direct threat to patients.

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NHS winter crisis: Ambulance diverts at their highest

From Sky News: The NHS continues to face severe pressure this winter, with high levels of ambulance diverts, patient handover delays and bed occupancy, the latest figures from NHS England reveal. Last week saw A&E departments send emergency patients elsewhere because they were too busy on 43 occasions, the highest number for a single week this winter. The figure was more than double the previous week and higher than the comparable week last year. Ambulance handover delays were also high, with 11,061 – around one in nine – waiting more than the target 30 minutes in the week to Sunday 28 January. Of these, 2,143 ambulances waited more than an hour to pass on their patient and get back on the road. And bed occupancy rose marginally, up to 95.1%, well ahead of both the recommended safe level of 85% and the predicted level of 92%.

[Read full article on Sky News website…]

Ambulance crisis ‘led to 20 deaths in east of England over Christmas’

From The Guardian: Twenty people died while waiting too long for ambulances in the east of England after the ambulance service there failed to seek outside help during the busy period over Christmas, a Labour MP has said, citing a whistleblower.

Clive Lewis, the MP for Norwich South, used a point of order in the Commons to highlight what he said was an “exceptionally serious issue” with the East of England ambulance service, highlighted by the whistleblower.

The ambulance service became critically overstretched from 19 December, and senior managers wanted to move into what is called Reap 4, the fourth stage of the resource escalation action plan, which involves seeking outside help, Lewis told MPs.

Because neighbouring ambulance services were also overstretched, the assistance would most likely have come from the armed forces, he said.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Essex woman dies after waiting nearly four hours for ambulance

From The Guardian: An 81-year-old woman was found dead in her house after waiting almost four hours for an ambulance.

The pensioner, who lived in Clacton, Essex, called 999 on Tuesday complaining of chest pains, according to the GMB union. East of England (EEAST) ambulance service said a crew arrived three hours and 45 minutes after the initial call.

Ambulance services, like hospitals, have struggled to cope in the midst of the NHS’s winter crisis. Last week, EEAST raised its operational level to the highest possible, an indication that its ability to respond to potentially life-threatening incidents had been affected. In some cases, it used taxis to transport patients to hospital.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

16,900 people in a week kept in NHS ambulances waiting for hospital care

From The Guardian: Record numbers of patients were forced to wait in the backs of ambulances last week as hospitals in England struggled to cope with demand for medical treatment as the NHS’s winter crisis began in earnest.

In all, 16,900 people – the highest number this winter – were stuck in the backs of ambulances waiting to enter an A&E unit to be assessed and treated in the week from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve.

Of those, 4,700 – again the most in any week this winter – had to endure a delay of at least an hour, according to NHS England’s latest figures, published on Thursday, on how the service is performing under the extra pressure that winter brings.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

NHS considers launching Airbnb scheme to cope with bed shortages

From the Guardian: Patients recovering from surgery could be discharged from hospital to recuperate in private houses nearby as part of an NHS trial.

The scheme, which is being piloted in Essex, aims to tackle bed shortages and save money but has been criticised by medical professionals and social workers who warn it would give too much responsibility to untrained members of the public. Read more

NHS nurses are too busy to care for patients properly, research shows

From The Guardian: One in three hospital nurses are too busy to relieve patients’ pain, give them their medication on time or talk to them and their families, research reveals.

Fifty-three percent of nurses fear the quality of care patients receive is suffering because they cannot do everything they need to do during their shift, according to a survey of 30,000 nurses.

And nurses are being left responsible for the care of as many as 25 hospital patients at a time, even though official guidelines say that to ensure patient safety it should not be more than eight. Read more

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