Demand pressures ‘more than a winter phenomenon’


Increases in demand are not restricted to isolated parts of the NHS and specific times of year, a new NHS Confederation report argues, despite the now annual media cycle highlighting a crisis in the NHS each winter.

Postponed operations, patients diverted between hospitals, and ambulance crews providing care outside emergency departments are often cited as examples to the contrary. But with demand for care outstripping funding growth, the pressures facing the NHS and social care are year-round.

System under strain, a new report published at the NHS Confederation’s annual conference, argues pressures extend beyond struggling hospital A&E departments and into every area of the NHS, as well as the social care system that supports it.

Whole-system thinking

Analysing the latest data, the report explores ways in which increasing demand in one part of the system can affect the performance of other NHS services elsewhere.

It also outlines how some NHS and social care providers have adapted their services to enable patients and service users to access care more efficiently.

It argues in support of a shift away from viewing performance solely as an organisational issue, calling for regulators to support NHS and social care providers and commissioners in thinking more holistically about how the benefits of local provider and commissioner relationships can be maximised to meet soaring demand.

System under strain: Why demand pressures are more than a winter phenomenon can be downloaded from the NHS Confederation's website. If you're at Confed18, pick up a copy at stand FA6.

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