Health Care

Hospitals nonetheless near capability — NHS figures

Hospitals nonetheless near capability — NHS figures

The Prime Minister has maintained the NHS is better prepared than ever for winter and there has been extensive planning across the system to anticipate demand by increasing the number of beds and diverting patients away from A&E.

Many patients also faced long delays as they were handed over from ambulance to A&E, with nearly 30,000 people waiting over an hour since the beginning of this winter. It is also the only time extremely long "trolley wait" figures have breached 1,000.

In the interview with ITV he added: "In terms of pressures on the system, I think it probably is the worst ever".

"When they signed up to go into medicine, they knew there would be pressurised moments", he said.

Mr Hunt did say sorry to patients, telling the programme: "I take responsibility for everything that happens in the NHS".

If A&E performance was at a new low in January it will make this the worst winter since current performance targets were introduced 15 years ago, and will raise fresh questions about the sustainability of NHS budgets and structures.

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.

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"It follows the Prime Minister's weird comment last month that cancelled operations were "part of the plan" for the NHS and that "nothing is perfect".

Government targets ask for all patients to be seen in A&E within four hours.

NHS England figures show just 85.3% of patients were seen in A&E departments within the waiting-time target of four hours last month.

"As always the biggest priority for NHS trusts and staff is ensuring patient safety".

The national average is 85.3% for four waiting times, which higher than December 2017 and January a year ago.

Just 77.1 per cent of patients at these "type one" units were treated within four hours.

Similar performance is being recorded in Scotland, while Wales and Northern Ireland are doing even worse.

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This comes as the reports reveal that the national average is below the 95% standard which was achieved in July 2015.

Ruth Thorlby, assistant director of policy at the Health Foundation, said: 'Today's performance figures show that health and social care services are under sustained and intense strain this winter. In 92.6% of cases where patients were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours or less.

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.

'Surgeons and other frontline NHS staff are working tirelessly to provide the best care possible to patients.

"Today's figures show that short-term measures to create extra capacity in the NHS are insufficient to meet NHS performance targets".

The Royal College of Nursing has called for proper investment in health and social care services to prevent this from happening again next winter.

Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy and deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said: "These figures show there has been absolutely no let-up in the pressures on the NHS".

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