Responding to the latest NHS England urgent and emergency care winter situation report Rory Deighton, director of the NHS Confederation’s Acute Network, said:
“The data shows that the NHS is already facing pressures from winter viruses including norovirus, flu and respiratory viruses. NHS leaders will be concerned that the number of patients with norovirus was almost three times higher last week compared to the same week last year.
“NHS leaders and their teams have been pulling out all the stops to prepare for winter, which we know is the most difficult time of year for the health services. Our members are supportive of NHS England’s urgent and emergency care recovery plan, which is based on good evidence of what really works, but we know the colder months ahead will be challenging.
“It is heartening to see the NHS entering the winter period with almost 1,500 more beds than last year, and testament to the hard work and planning that leaders and their staff have put in. The drop in staff absences and ambulance handover delays compared to last year is also welcome news.
“However, bed occupancy is still high, and we are concerned about the continuing challenge of discharging patients who are medically fit to leave hospital into social or community care settings.
“The NHS also continues to grapple with the long-term impact of sustained industrial action, as well as more than 120,000 staff vacancies and a dearth of capital funding.”