Healthcare leaders sound alarm as winter nears

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Winter pressures member polling

More than 90 per cent of health and care leaders across England are “concerned“ about their organisation's ability to cope this winter, with 62 per cent of these “extremely concerned“. 

An NHS Confederation poll of over 130 senior leaders paints a bleak picture as the health and care system prepares for another tough winter. 

“Last year it was said that the service was 'just about coping', but for many of our members this year looks more challenging” the head of the NHS Confederation said on Wednesday.

“Not only is there the prospect of ongoing pressure, high bed occupancy, and delayed transfers of care blockages in flow, but the worry too of a serious flu attack combined with bad weather.   

Cash injection won’t avert crisis

With 92 per cent of respondents “concerned” about the impact of winter pressures, the NHS Confederation has called for a comprehensive government review of services, how much they will cost and how they will be funded.

It comes as the Confederation’s chief executive said on Monday that a cash injection at this stage will not save the NHS from a winter crisis.

Writing in The Times, he urged the chancellor to revisit funding allocations up to 2020 to avoid a cycle of crises.

He added that the Autumn Budget presents an opportunity for the government to underline its support for the NHS and social care system.

Winter preparedness

Effective planning at local level will be key over the coming months, “with cooperation between all parts of the system, including commissioners, social care, all parts of the hospital, as well as community and primary care” Mr Dickson said.

NHS Confederation members have been implementing a number of measures, including partnering with housing associations to reduce DTOCs, redesigning systems to reduce length of stay and working with local partners to transform out-of-hospital services.

“Any additional money must be carefully targeted to produce the greatest benefit,” Niall Dickson said. “The focus should be on additional out-of-hospital provision to free up beds in hospitals.”

It comes as leading organisations, including the NHS Confederation and Care Quality Commission, warn of a system ‘straining at the seams’ and services ‘on the brink’.

Over party conference season, the Confederation urged politicians to rally behind local services on seven pressing issues, including NHS staff pay, Brexit, transformation and social care.

Find out more

Download Healthcare on the brink, the NHS Confederation's briefing for MPs on Peers on how they can support local services.

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