Commenting ahead of the publication of the urgent and emergency care recovery plan, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“With emergency and urgent care services under extreme pressure it is right the NHS takes stock of the steps needed to recover performance and expands key initiatives that are already leading to improvements, such as ‘virtual wards’ and same day emergency care units.
“Further progress will not only depend on NHS staff continuing to go above and beyond, but also on concerted action to reduce the numbers of people needing to come into contact with emergency and urgent care services in the first place.
“This includes looking at more fundamental changes to improve the health of local communities, as well as the support available to local authorities to fund more social care packages as this will then help improve the flow of patients through hospitals.
“The NHS has been at the mercy of a sluggish and short-term approach from the Government in its response to the crisis facing emergency services this winter. Extra pots of money have been welcome but they have come too late to have maximum impact when it comes to easing winter pressures. In future years, health leaders are clear this funding needs to come much earlier to give health and care services enough time to recruit extra capacity.
“Also, if the Government continues its standstill with the trade unions on pay this could lead to further disruptive strikes and frontline staff walking away when the NHS needs them more than ever. The NHS needs the right numbers and mix of staff in place if it is to truly recover the performance of emergency care and other services long term.”