Posts Tagged ‘healthcare’

Britain’s Health Secretary says NHS winter crisis is ‘worst ever’ but says doctors and nurses ‘knew what they signed up for’ — Doctors say NHS does “not currently have a sustainable model” — No mention of patients, sick and elderly

February 9, 2018

Health Secretary says doctors and nurses knew what to expect

By Alex Matthews-King

Image may contain: 1 person, suit and closeup

Jeremy Hunt admits NHS winter crisis is ‘worst ever’

Jeremy Hunt has acknowledged the NHS winter crisis is the “worst ever” but said staff knew what to expect when they “signed up” to work in the health service.

Official figures released today confirmed that A&E waiting time performance is at its worst level on record, and more than a thousand patients were left waiting for 12 hours or more in trolleys waiting for a bed.

Experts said patients are dying prematurely because corridors have become “the new emergency wards” this winter, despite unprecedented efforts and planning by staff and the cancellation of tens of thousands of operations.

The Health Secretary described this winter as the “worst ever” for the NHS, saying the flu outbreak had been “very, very tough” on frontline services, and adding: “In terms of pressures on the system, I think it probably is the worst ever because we’ve got very high levels of demand.”

Image may contain: one or more people

But when asked in an interview with ITV News whether he would apologise to under-pressure NHS staff, he replied: “I completely recognise the pressures they have been going through and when they signed up to go into medicine they knew there were going to be pressurised moments.”

Mr Hunt did go on to say sorry to patients, telling the programme: “I take responsibility for everything that happens in the NHS. I apologise to patients when we haven’t delivered the care that we should.”

Justin Madders, Labour’s shadow health minister, said: “This startling admission shows how entirely out of touch with the reality of the NHS winter crisis Jeremy Hunt is.

“It follows the Prime Minister’s bizarre comment last month that cancelled operations were ‘part of the plan’ for the NHS and that ‘nothing is perfect’.

“The truth is that our hardworking NHS staff provide the best possible care in the face of unprecedented pressures and are all that stand between the current crisis and total collapse.”

He was speaking as figures released by NHS England showed just 85.3 per cent of patients were seen at A&E departments within the waiting time target of four hours in January.

Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting

NHS England said the “worst flu season in years” had put a strain on services, but the result was an improvement on December and January last year – the joint worst months since records began.

More than 1,000 patients had to wait more than 12 hours to be seen – more than double the previous month, described as “shocking” by Royal College of Nursing chief executive Janet Davies.

Image may contain: one or more people

“There’s no more graphic illustration of how tough this winter has been for NHS patients and staff than the fact that last month, over 81,000 people going to A&E had to wait more than four hours for a bed in the hospital – the worst figure on record,” she added.

“Over a thousand of those had to wait a shocking 12 hours or more.”

She said “distressing scenes of frail elderly people in corridors on trolleys have become an all too familiar sight this winter”, which is pushing people to quit the NHS.

Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said the figures demonstrate how the NHS does “not currently have a sustainable model” to cope during the busy winter months when illnesses such as flu and norovirus are more prevalent.

Figures also released by Public Health England (PHE) on Thursday showed there were 22 confirmed flu-deaths last week, taking the total deaths so far this winter to 215.

“The last six weeks has seen the acute services of the NHS under a sustained period of stress due to ‘normal’ winter pressures along with a surge in influenza,” Dr Scriven added.

“Last year we coined the phrase ‘eternal winter’, but the last month and a half has shown an even steeper decline in performance as demonstrated by all the data available – particularly around ambulance delays, the four-hour emergency target and bed occupancy both in acute beds and critical care.”

Image result for flu, britain, uk, NHS, photos

NHS England said more than 1.7 million patients were seen within four hours last month, an increase of 5.72 per cent on the daily average for the same month last year.


Jeremy Hunt has a very uncomfortable reaction to NHS doctor’s honest admission about health service
Hunt looked visibly awkward as he heard that one doctor ‘would not have trained’ if he knew what the state of the NHS was really like on ITV news

Germany’s top parties ‘reach deal’ on Merkel coalition — Potentially ending four months of political standstill

February 7, 2018


© AFP/File / by Deborah COLE with Michelle FITZPATRICK in Frankfurt | Merkel has seen her standing at home and abroad weakened by the longest stretch of coalition-building in the country’s postwar history.

BERLIN (AFP) – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats sealed a deal Wednesday on a new coalition, officials close to the talks said, potentially ending four months of political standstill in Europe’s top economy.The sources told AFP the parties had ironed out their final differences and were ready to sign an agreement for Merkel’s fourth term.

Public broadcaster ARD said the final disputes had centred around “ministry remits and personnel questions”.

The breakthrough will come as a relief to Germany’s EU partners as the bloc faces tough negotiations on migration and Brexit.

Merkel, Europe’s most experienced leader, has seen her standing at home and abroad weakened by the longest stretch of coalition-building in the country’s postwar history.

But before she can be sworn in, a final hurdle looms: the hard-fought pact between her CDU/CSU bloc and the Social Democratic Party must still be approved by the SPD’s sceptical rank-and-file?.

The agreement for a renewed “grand coalition” comes after days of marathon talks in which negotiators from all three parties haggled over everything from foreign policy to labour issues and healthcare.

– SPD holds the keys –

Germany has been stuck in political limbo since September’s inconclusive general election saw mainstream parties bleed support to the far-right AfD, which tapped into anger over Merkel’s liberal refugee policy.

Merkel, in power for over 12 years, at first tried to cobble together a novel three-way coalition with the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats, but those efforts collapsed in November.

Faced with snap elections that could further boost the AfD or the prospect of heading an unstable minority government, she opted to woo back the SPD — her junior partner for two of her three terms since 2005.

SPD leader Martin Schulz then abandoned his post-election vow to renew the party in opposition — a U-turn that angered many.

Merkel’s fate now lies in the hands of the SPD, as Schulz has promised to give his party’s 460,000 members the final say on whether to accept the coalition pact.

Observers expect the referendum to be tight, with the SPD’s left and youth wings fiercely opposed to another four years governing in Merkel’s shadow.

The party’s fiery youth chief Kevin Kuehnert has led a campaign against another “GroKo”, as the grand coalition is known.

The referendum will be held by postal ballot, with the result expected to be announced in early March.

A green light could see a new Merkel-led government in place by the end of next month.

A thumbs-down could spell disaster for Merkel and Schulz, whose political lives hang in the balance, and see the country headed for fresh elections.

– Hard-won concessions –

With so much at stake, Schulz was determined to extract as many concessions as possible from the tortuous coalition talks to win over sceptics.

While details of the final agreement have yet to be released, former European Parliament chief Schulz has put a fairer Europe at the heart of his efforts, insisting that Berlin must join French President Emmanuel Macron’s push to deepen eurozone integration.

In a draft version of the coalition pact seen by AFP, the parties agreed to support Macron’s reform drive and tentatively backed his idea of a eurozone investment budget.

On the hot-button topic of migration, the two camps said they would aim to limit the annual intake to 180,000-220,000 people, a key CSU demand.

The SPD however won assurances that family reunifications for refugees would resume in August, albeit restricted to 1,000 people a month.

It was not immediately clear how the final sticking points in the negotiations were resolved, such as the SPD’s insistence on limiting short-term contracts and overhauling the two-tier healthcare system.

On defence spending too, both sides remained at odds as the finish line neared with the conservatives more open than the SPD to raising military spending closer to NATO targets, as pushed for by US President Donald Trump.

But the protracted haggling has left its scars, and surveys suggest both camps have much to fear from fresh elections in case of a “no” vote from SPD members.

A recent Insa poll found that support for the CDU/CSU had fallen from 33 to 30.5 percent, while the SPD slipped from September’s historic low of 20.5 percent to 17 percent.

The AfD meanwhile scored a record 15 percent.

by Deborah COLE with Michelle FITZPATRICK in Frankfurt

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) ‘should be funded by new tax’

February 5, 2018

BBC News

 Image result for NHS protests, february 2018, photos
A rally was held in London at the weekend calling for more funding for the NHS

A new ring-fenced tax to fund the NHS and social care has been proposed by a panel of health experts.

The panel, set up by the Liberal Democrats, says the NHS in England should be given an extra £4bn on top of inflation in the next financial year.

It has suggested replacing National Insurance with the new tax to close the funding gap.

Image result for NHS protests, february 2018, photos

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said NHS funding “is at a record high”.

“[It] was prioritised in the Budget with an extra £2.8bn, on top of the additional £2bn already provided for social care over the next three years, and an additional £437m of funding for winter,” the spokesperson said.

The future of NHS money has been hotly debated as hospitals struggle to cope with the pressure on resources.

Last month, tens of thousands of non-urgent operations were delayed.

The 10-member panel included former NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson, Peter Carter, former chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing and Clare Gerada, former chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs.

It said on top of the £4bn extra needed for next year, an additional £2.5bn would be required for both 2019 and 2020.

Prof Gerada said that one of the issues is that working people over the age of 60 benefit from a significantly reduced National Insurance contribution, and people over 65 do not pay it at all.

She said National Insurance, which currently funds the NHS and social care, is inadequate as older people are living longer, and not contributing to the ring-fenced tax.

She said: “Old age is now between 85 and 95, so old age has significantly moved.

“Why shouldn’t I pay for my fair share of contributions if I’m working?”

As part of the recommendations, the panel also suggested reinstating a cap on the costs paid by individuals on social care.

In December, the government scrapped proposals to cap fees at £72,500.

It supported creating an office for budget responsibility for health and called for a series of incentives to get people to save more towards their adult social care.

The idea of a levy dedicated to funding the NHS was also suggested by former minister Nick Boles.


Israel to double pace of deporting Africans and replace them with Palestinian workers

January 29, 2018

The goal is to get at least 600 Eritrean and Sudanese nationals to leave each month, for a total of 7,200 a year, and replace them with Palestinian workers

Thousands of asylum seekers protest Israel's efforts to deport them to Rwanda and Uganda on January 22, 2018 outside the Rwandan embassy.
Thousands of asylum seekers protest Israel’s efforts to deport them to Rwanda and Uganda on January 22, 2018 outside the Rwandan embassy.Meged Gozani

The government is seeking to double the pace at which African asylum seekers leave Israel, and to replace them with Palestinianworkers.

The target the government has set is to get at least 600 Eritrean and Sudanese nationals to leave each month, for a total of 7,200 a year. That is more than double the approximately 3,300 who have left in each of the last three years. The last time the government achieved a departure rate similar to its current target was in 2014, when some 6,400 Africans left.

A resolution adopted at a special cabinet session two and a half weeks ago says that if, on average, at least 600 “infiltrators” a month leave, the government will issue one Palestinian work visa for every two Africans who depart. The resolution doesn’t explain why this ratio was chosen.

The Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority, which is responsible for carrying out the deportations, said on Sunday it wasn’t consulted on the matter and cannot explain the decision.

According to the authority’s data, some 34,000 Eritrean and Sudanese adults currently live in Israel. Most are employed in restaurants, hotels or cleaning jobs, and the government expects most of them to leave within the next three years.

In their stead, the resolution said, the government will grant up to 12,000 work visas to Palestinians. An inter-ministerial committee will decide which industries these Palestinians will be authorized to work in.

The cabinet also decided at that meeting to grant work visas to up to 13,000 additional Palestinians, including 1,500 for the restaurant industry, 1,000 for the hotel industry, 7,000 for construction, 2,000 for agriculture, 1,000 for institutional nursing care and 700 for East Jerusalem hospitals.

According to data from the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, some 70,000 Palestinians are already employed in Israel and another 30,000 in the settlements.

About 10 days ago, the immigration authority began informing asylum seekers held at the detention facility in Holot that if they don’t leave Israel, they will be jailed indefinitely at Saharonim Prison. So far, such notices have been handed to a few dozen of the approximately 900 asylum seekers at Holot, which is slated to be closed in about another six weeks.

Israel about to read them the riot act 

In early February, the authority is slated to start handing out such notices to thousands of asylum seekers who aren’t at Holot when they come to renew their visas, which they must do every two months. Authority employees will give these asylum seekers one final two-month visa and tell them that if they haven’t left by the time it expires, they will be unable to work legally and be subject to arrest and unlimited detention. This step is expected to remove thousands of asylum seekers from the workforce in April and May.

Hoteliers and restaurateurs have recently warned that mass deportations of asylum seekers will seriously harm their industries. They say there aren’t enough Israelis willing to do the jobs now done by Eritreans and Sudanese, even if they are offered higher wages.

Tourism Minister Yuval Levin told TheMarker three weeks ago that he’s trying to get government approval to bring in migrant workers from the Philippines to replace the African asylum seekers at hotels. On Sunday his office said it has received approval for 500 Filipinos now and another 500 later if the program proves successful, along with 1,000 Palestinians.

More than three years ago, the government approved letting 1,500 Jordanians come to Israel to work in Eilat hotels in place of African asylum seekers. These workers commute to Israel, going home every night.

Shai Berman, head of the Israeli Restaurant Association, said on Sunday that the plan approved by the government is inadequate. “We received a quota of 1,500 Palestinian workers who are supposed to replace more than 10,000 asylum seekers,” he said. “Given that Israelis aren’t interested in filling these positions, that’s not really a solution.”

Moreover, he said, employing Palestinians “isn’t at all simple. You have to get a permit from the army for them to stay overnight and then rent apartments for them. You have to remember that for us restaurateurs, it’s not like in construction, where they can come to work and at 3 P.M. the van comes and takes them back home. For us, work at many businesses begins at 3 P.M., and it also includes weekends.”

Meanwhile, the immigration authority is still trying to recruit new immigration inspectors to help carry out the deportations. In response to a question from Haaretz, the authority said on Sunday that 300 people have applied for the jobs, of whom 100 will be hired, almost doubling the current number of inspectors.

The new inspectors will start work in March on two-year contracts. Aside from detaining asylum seekers who are here illegally, they will be responsible for enforcing the law against businesses that employ asylum seekers illegally.

The authority said it has also received some 300 applications for 40 new positions at the Refugee Status Determination unit in south Tel Aviv, which processes asylum applications. This is a significant boost over the unit’s current staff of 60.

Both categories of new workers are being promised special bonuses – 30,000 shekels ($8,900) for the inspectors and 20,000 shekels for the RSD staffers – if they stay on the job for a specified period of time.

Young Chinese emergency doctor dies after treating 40 patients on long night shift

January 26, 2018

Guo Qingyuan, 43, collapsed after a busy evening at the Qinghai hospital

By Laura Zhou
South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 January, 2018, 1:55pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 January, 2018, 2:12pm

An emergency doctor in northwest China has collapsed and died after a long night shift during which he had treated 40 patients, a local newspaper reports.

Guo Qingyuan, 43, was coming to the end of a busy shift at the Qinghai University Affiliated Hospital on Wednesday morning when he started experiencing chest pain, palpitations and breathing difficulties, Xining Evening News reported on Friday.

As he was going through the procedures to be admitted as a patient himself, Guo had a seizure and collapsed. He underwent four hours of emergency treatment before he died.

Guo was the father of a two-month-old son and a daughter, 10, and his wife is also a doctor at the same hospital, according to Southern Metropolis News.

The night before he died, Guo had treated 40 patients then stayed on for an extra three hours so that he could ensure his work was properly handed over to colleagues, according to the newspaper.

The case has triggered an outpouring of grief and sympathy online, with many people expressing their condolences to his family, and their support for other doctors who work long hours.

“This is an unbearable loss for his family … his wife and two children,” one person wrote on news portal “Emergency doctors have a tough job and they have to work around the clock.”

Another wrote: “Many people don’t understand the work of doctors. But I know, after giving birth, that they don’t even get a set time to eat or rest because they don’t know when the next patients will arrive. I salute all medical workers.”

It is not the first case of a doctor collapsing while at work in recent years in China. The most recent case was on December 29, when a 43-year-old respiratory specialist in Shanxi province died after she reportedly worked an 18-hour shift without a break.

Boris Johnson warns Theresa May she must commit to giving NHS extra £100m a week to defeat Jeremy Corbyn

January 17, 2018

Image result for nhs, a&e, photos


Boris Johnson has warned Theresa May that the Government must make a public commitment to giving the NHS an extra £100million a week after Brexit if the Tories are to beat Jeremy Corbyn at the next election.

The Foreign Secretary believes that the Government must adopt the flagship Vote Leave pledge and spend £5.2billion a year that would have been paid into Brussels on the health service instead.

His intervention comes as hospitals struggle to cope with the winter flu crisis amid an ongoing row between the Government and NHS England over funding.

Mr Corbyn, the Labour leader, has put the issue at the forefront of his campaigning. Mr Johnson is likely to have the support of Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary and leading Leave campaigner, alongside senior Eurosceptic Tory MPs as he makes his case for the commitment.

Read more (Paywall):


Boris Johnson suggests Brexit could fund NHS

Boris Johnson said Vote Leave had underestimated the amount that Britain gives to Brussels each week
Boris Johnson said Vote Leave had underestimated the amount that Britain gives to Brussels each weekMATT CARDY/GETTY IMAGES

Boris Johnson has suggested that additional NHS funding should come from the Brexit dividend rather than a new tax.

The foreign secretary joined the heated debate among senior Conservatives about how much to put into the NHS after the funding settlement runs out in 2020 and how to pay for it.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, is prepared to look at a new tax among other options, The Times revealed yesterday. Nick Boles, the Tory MP for Grantham & Stamford, has backed an additional levy, as has Nick Macpherson, former permanent secretary to the Treasury.

However, Mr Johnson told The Guardian that the cash should come from funds now paid to Brussels that may be available after Brexit, depending on how much the UK continues…


Britain’s National Health Service Crisis: NHS crisis fuelled by closure of 1,000 care homes housing more than 30,000 pensioners

January 13, 2018

NHS figures show the worst Accident & Emergency crisis on record CREDIT: CHRIS J. RATCLIFF


The growing NHS crisis has been fuelled by the closure of almost 1,000 care homes housing more than 30,000 pensioners, research suggests.

It comes as NHS figures show the worst Accident & Emergency crisis on record, amid a 37 per cent rise in the numbers stuck in hospital for want of social care, since 2010.

Experts said hospitals were being overwhelmed by the spread of flubecause they had almost no spare capacity to cope with surges in demand.

The report by industry analysts shows that in the last decade, 929 care homes housing 31,201 pensioners have closed, at a time when the population is ageing rapidly.

The research from LaingBuisson show care homes going out of business at an ever increasing rate, with 224 care homes closed between March 2016 and March 2017, amounting to more than 2,000 beds.

The research from LaingBuisson show care homes going out of business at an ever increasing rate
The research from LaingBuisson show care homes going out of business at an ever increasing rateCREDIT: JEFF J MITCHELL

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS): ‘No longer able to meet standards in its constitution’

January 13, 2018

‘Rising numbers of flu cases and more respiratory illness have placed intolerable pressures on staff’

By Samuel OsborneAlex Matthews-King

The Independent Online

The National Health Service is at a “watershed moment” and cannot deliver care to the standards required by its constitution with the funding it receives, Jeremy Hunt has been told.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which acts as as bridge between trusts and the Department of Health, has written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to call for extra investment on a long-term basis to address the “fragility of the wider NHS”.

The three-page letter calls for the Government to commit to increasing the NHS budget to £153bn by 2022/23 – a sum the Office for Budget Responsibility said was needed, given projected increased demand for services.

But Mr Hopson has warned that, due to the current state of NHS finances, “substantial progress” must be made before the Autumn Budget this year.

Mr Hopson said: “Despite planning for winter more thoroughly and extensively than before, it hasn’t been sufficient. Rising numbers of flu cases and more respiratory illness have placed intolerable pressures on staff.

“The NHS is no longer able to deliver the constitutional standards to which it is committed. We need to be realistic about what we can provide on the funding available.

“If we continue to run the NHS at close to 100 per cent capacity day in, day out, permanently in the red zone, it’s not surprising that the service can’t cope when we get a high, but entirely predictable, spike in demand.”

Warning that failure to act would lead to targets moving further out of reach, he said: “There is so much at stake. We can fix this, but there must be no more delay. The ball is now firmly in the Government’s court.”

The letter follows the Health Secretary’s admission on Wednesday that the NHS will need substantially increased funding in future, which should be delivered across a 10-year spending period.

The letter adds: “The Government now needs to set out how it will create the sustainable, long-term health and care funding settlement you have rightly called for.”

NHS Providers has said the Government must commit to review this year’s winter preparations, which Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly said are “the best ever”, despite hospitals relying on a last-minute allocation of £335m in the Budget.

The Government has also guaranteed hospitals will be protected against further funding squeezes if they fail to hit increasingly remote financial targets.

The cancellation of non-urgent care, as advised by the NHS last week, will mean trusts, which are paid on a fee-for-service basis, miss out on income from these operations.

Jeremy Hunt apologises to patients as thousands of operations delayed

This will also make it harder to hit strict savings and performance targets and unlock the associated funding for delivering them.

NHS Providers’s intervention comes on the day after a leaked memo revealed Oxford’s Churchill Hospital was having to consider cutting back chemotherapy services for cancer patients because of staff shortages.

A letter from the hospital’s head of chemotherapy, Dr Andrew Weaver, said nurse numbers were down 40 per cent, and chemotherapy start dates may have to be pushed back or the number of cycles reduced.

Norman Lamb, a former Liberal Democrat minister, said the country had been “honest” about how to give the NHS more funding.

His party has called for adding a penny in the pound on income tax.

“The clear message from NHS leaders is that the Government must drop its sticking-plaster approach to the health service,” he said.

“The gap between demand and resources in the NHS is growing each year, with tragic human consequences across the country.

“The stark reality is that the current winter crisis is just a taster of what is to come unless ministers get to grips with the long-term funding shortfall facing the health service.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The NHS was given top priority in the recent Budget with an extra £2.8bn allocated over the next two years, and was recently ranked as the best and safest healthcare system in the world.

“We know there is a great deal of pressure in A&E departments and that flu rates are going up, and we are grateful to all NHS staff for their incredible work in challenging circumstances.

“That’s why we recently announced the largest single increase in doctor training places in the history of the NHS – a 25 per cent expansion.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

Britain’s Hospitals: Patients Are Dying Amid ‘Intolerable’ Safety Risks, Theresa May Told

January 11, 2018

NHS chief executives say this winter is the worst the health service has experienced for three decades  CREDIT: ANDREW FOX


The heads of more than 60 Accident & Emergency units have written to the Prime Minister warning that patients are “dying prematurely” amid “intolerable” safety risks.

It came as official figures show Accident and Emergency performance at major units is the worst on record, with fears the situation will worsen amid rising cases of norovirus and flu.

The letter from the most senior doctors at A&E units across the country said the health service is “chronically underfunded” and ill-prepared for winter.

They said more than 50 patients at a time had been left waiting for beds in casualty units, with 120 patients a day being managed in corridors, “some dying prematurely”.

The letter,  reported by the Health Service Journal, told the prime minister that shortages of beds and staff meant patients were being put at higher risk of death.

Monthly figures from NHS England show just 77.3 per cent of patients treated at major units – known as type 1 A&Es – were seen within four hours – against a target of 95 per cent.

This is the worst performance since records began – below the previous low of 77.6 per cent recorded in January 2017 and the 79.3 per cent seen in December 2016.

The worst performance was at  Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, with just 40 per cent of patients seen within four hours last month, the figures show.

At Hillingdon Hospitals Foundation Trust and Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust the figure was just 58 per cent, with 59 per cent recorded at London North West Healthcare Trust and University Hospitals Of North Midlands Trust.

Across all A&E units, performance was 85.1 per cent, the same as last January, which was the worst on record.

Just three out of 134 NHS trusts hit the 95 per cent A&E target, with just two trusts with major units achieving it, the figures show.

The latest statistics from NHS England show crowding on hospital wards is continuing to worsen, while levels of norovirus have risen by almost one third in a week.

Bed occupancy levels, which dropped over Christmas, are now back up to 95 per cent, the figures show.

The weekly figures show 16,690 ambulance handover delays in the week ending 7  January  – including 5,082 waits of at least an hour.

In total, 944 beds were closed because of winter vomiting and norovirus, compared with 731 the week before – a rise of 29 per cent.

Latest figures show hospitalisations because of flu almost tripled the previous week, with new figures due to be published later today. One in four cases in hospital has the strain dubbed “Aussie flu”.

The new statistics show hospital occupancy rates have now reached 95 per cent – a rise from 91.7 per cent in one week.

In the letter to the Prime Minister, the clinical leads from 68 A&E units apologise to patients for putting safety at risk, as they demand a major cash injection.

As well as calling for “a significant increase in Social Care Funding to allow patients who are fit to be discharged from acute beds to be cared for in the community” they call for a review of hospital beds, which have been reduced in recent decades.

“In the meantime we would like to apologise to our patients for being unable to fulfil our pledge for a safe efficient service and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the staff,” the letter states.

In the letter to the Prime Minister, the clinical leads from 62 A&E units state: “We feel compelled to speak out in support of our hardworking and dedicated nursing, medical and allied health professional colleagues and for the very serious concerns we have for the safety of our patients.

“This current level of safety compromise is at times intolerable, despite the best efforts of staff.

“It has been stated that the NHS was better prepared for this winter than ever before. There is no question that a huge amount of effort and energy has been spent both locally and nationally on drawing up plans for coping with NHS winter pressures. Our experience at the front line is that these plans have failed to deliver anywhere near what was needed. ”

Acknowledging efforts across the NHS to tackle the pressures, it continues:  “The facts remain however that the NHS is severely and chronically underfunded. We have insufficient hospital and community beds and staff of all disciplines especially at the front door to cope with our ageing population’s health needs.

“As you will know a number of scientific publications have shown that crowded Emergency Departments are dangerous for patients. The longer that the patients stay in ED after their treatment has been completed, the greater is their morbidity and associated mortality.

“Recent media coverage has reported numerous anecdotal accounts of how appalling the situation in an increasing number of our Emergency Departments has become. These departments are not outliers. Many of the trusts we work in are in similar positions,” it warns.

NHS England has stopped publishing weekly figures measuring A&E performance. But the figures, from those in charge of around half of A&E departments state: “Last week’s 4 hour performance target was between 45 and 75%. Thousands of patients are waiting in ambulances for hours as the hospitals lack adequate space. ”

The senior doctors said their hospitals were dealing with:

  • Over 120 patients a day managed in corridors, some dying prematurely
  • An average of 10-12 hours from decision to admit a patient until they are transferred to a bed
  • Over 50 patients at a time waiting beds in the Emergency Department
  • Patients sleeping in clinics as makeshift wards

It comes as hospital chiefs said the NHS was at a  “watershed moment” and needs tens of billions in extra cash to deliver the required levels of care.

NHS Providers, the trade body which represents NHS services, had previously warned the health service was “not where it would want to be” heading into winter amid concerns over a bad strain of flu.

A letter, written to Jeremy Hunt, the Health and Social Care Secretary, calls for extra investment on a long-term basis – and help with the immediate financial impact of “exceptional winter pressures” – to address the “fragility of the wider NHS”.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said last year was “the first time ever” in NHS history that all of its key targets for A&E, cancer and planned operations across the UK had been missed.

He said hospitals were short of 10,000-15,000 beds, calling on the Government to invest billions more on the NHS.

Tens of thousands of non-urgent operations and routine outpatient appointments have been shelved by NHS England to ease pressures on hospitals.

Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said today’s data showed the NHS was struggling to cope, but hid the misery and lack of dignity for patients.

“These figures support the messages we have been getting from our members about conditions across the NHS and the struggle they are facing to provide safe and compassionate care in exceedingly difficult conditions,” he said.

And he warned worse could come as flu spreads across England.

Dr Scriven said:  “NHS Providers is right when it says we are at a watershed moment in the health service and the government must recognise this – it has had long enough and been warned of this dangers enough times in the last two years alone.

“The data hides the misery and lack of dignity some people are being treated with and it is a potentially worrying side note that the Care Quality Commission is postponing inspections during ‘winter,'” he added.

Liberal Democrat former Health Minister Norman Lamb said: “The NHS is facing record levels of pressure – meaning every day patients are dying and experiencing dreadful failures of care.

“Yet all the government does is offer inadequate sums of money which barely keep our health service going. “Theresa May cannot ignore this crisis any longer. Ministers have a choice: agree to work with others to deliver a proper, sustainable settlement for the NHS or be left with blood on their hands.”

Health officials said the four-hour A&E performance in December was the same as it was last January, even though the NHS had treated almost 40,000 more patients within four hours.

Latest figures show a tripling in patients hospitalised with flu, with one in four cases suffering from the deadliest strain, dubbed Australian flu, after it fuelled the country’s worst season for two decades.

Across England, around 4.5m people are estimated to be suffering from flu-like symptoms, while across the channel, France has declared an epidemic.

The Department of Health says ambulance crews should be able to hand patients over to A&E staff within 15 minutes of arrival at hospital, and not doing so increases the risk to patients due to delays in diagnosis and treatment, as well as the chance that a patient will get worse while waiting on a trolley. But 16,690 patients waited at least half an hour in the last week, the figures show.

Meanwhile there were record calls to 111, with 1.68 million such calls last December, up from 1.48 million the previous year.

A spokesperson for the Royal College of Surgeons said: “December’s A&E performance is disappointing and shows a system under pressure. It further demonstrates why it has been necessary to cancel patients’ non-urgent procedures until the end of January.

“Despite the best efforts and dedication of NHS staff to treat patients quickly, waiting times for non-urgent care have also deteriorated again in the past year.

“Last week, NHS England advised that hospitals defer non-urgent inpatient planned care until the end of January and that day-case procedures and routine patient appointments should also be deferred where this will release clinical time for emergency care.  Although this should help relieve some of the pressures on hospitals and avoid last-minute cancellations, it is a short term solution and will cause huge disruption to those patients whose appointments and operations have been cancelled. The fact remains that we do not have adequate funding or capacity in our health or social care services.”

An NHS England spokesman said: “Despite the clear pressure on the NHS in December, with rising levels of flu and record numbers of 111 calls and hospital admissions, we managed to hold A&E performance at the same level as last January.

“We also saw the best seasonal performance on NHS delayed transfers of Care in four years, and went into winter with cancer and routine surgery waits both showing improvements.”

The latest weekly figures show 23 trusts which hit 100 per cent occupancy in the week ending 7 January.

Three trusts – The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust  and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust – were at full capacity on every day of the week.

Last year, the British Red Cross provoked outrage by declaring a “humanitarian crisis” in the NHS as pressures mounted.

Today its chief executive Mike Adamson said:  “Despite the best efforts of hardworking NHS staff, many A&Es and emergency departments remain under serious pressure this winter.

“It is increasingly clear that we will never address the ongoing pressures on hospitals by focusing on the NHS in isolation. We need a joined-up approach to health and social care, because we know that many people’s health problems start in the home.”

Hospitals which hit 100 per cent capacity in the week ending January 7

The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Weston Area Health NHS Trust

The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust

East Cheshire NHS Trust

North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust

The Whittington Hospital NHS Trust

Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Isle Of Wight NHS Trust

Croydon Health Services NHS Trust

Lewisham And Greenwich NHS Trust

Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Tameside And Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

East And North Hertfordshire NHS Trust

Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust

University Hospitals Of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

Source: NHS England

British PM faces pressure over healthcare crisis — “third-world conditions”

January 10, 2018


© AFP/File | Healthcare crisis at her door? Britain’s Theresa May came under fire in parliament over severe delays in patient treatment at the state-run National Health Service (NHS)


A healthcare crisis put British Prime Minister Theresa May on the defensive at her first weekly parliamentary questions of 2018 on Wednesday following a report about cuts in cancer care.

The questions followed a report in Wednesday’s edition of The Times which said a leading hospital was delaying the start of chemotherapy for patients due to a 40-percent shortfall of nurses in the relevant medical unit.

Andrew Weaver, head of chemotherapy at Churchill Hospital in Oxford, is also reportedly considering reducing the number of treatment cycles used to alleviate symptoms, rather than cure patients, due to staff shortages.

The hospital has denied any change in policy.

May dismissed the report but apologised for the postponement of tens of thousands of operations over January due to a surge in demand at the state-run National Health Service during the winter period.

“I fully accept that the NHS is under pressure over winter… I apologise to those people who have had their operations delayed,” May said after a barrage of questions from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“The reality in our NHS is that we are seeing 2.9 million more people now going to accident and emergency, over two million more operations taking place each year,” she said.

Corbyn also mocked May over reports that she had intended to sack Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt but was “too weak” to do so in a cabinet reshuffle earlier this week.

NHS staffing levels have been in crisis for months.

There are 40,000 vacant nurse posts in England, according to the Royal College of Nursing, but the numbers applying to study the subject are also falling.

According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, 27 percent more nurses and midwives left the job between 2016 and 2017 than joined.

Numerous doctors have taken to social media in recent weeks to apologise to patients, with one emergency doctor in central England warning of “third-world conditions”.

NHS England last week recommended all hospitals defer non-urgent appointments and operations until the end of the month, except for cancer operations and “time-critical procedures”.