Around this time of year, many articles start cropping up about the crisis the crisis occurs in the NHS, articles that reveal the cracks in our Health Service and its deterioration, but how true are these claims?
I think the only way to answer this is to consider the statistics of the NHS recently in comparison to the NHS in past years in attempt to observe deterioration. The evidence used is from qualitywatch.org.uk and is suitable for the purposes for this post but I can also appreciate that more evidence and information needs to be collected at a local and national level to paint a more accurate and whole picture of the NHS during winter.
The Winter Curse in no longer exclusive to winter; the people waiting for more than four hours in trolleys in A&E increased at the end of summer 2015 to numbers higher than previous winters. Also, there are areas on there is hope as the average length of time patients spend in A&E and the number of cancelled operations among other things did not deteriorate in comparison to previous winters but it didn’t improve either.
The A&E is the centre of the Winter Curse because, year on year it is the A&E that has increasing demand during Christmas time but it is also important to monitor how regular hospital service continues.
In A&E, the number of beds unavailable due to another patients discharge being delayed has increased: with 4000 instances in 2014-2015 compared to a much lower 2500 in 2011-2012, this the increases the waiting time in hospitals, decreasing patient satisfaction. The number of ambulances waiting outside A&E departments increased to 96,150 in 2014-15, rising rapidly from the 60,000 in the previous winters. This figure peaked over Christmas and New Year. The number of people waiting for a bed for over 12 hours and the waiting time in response to ambulance calls also increased. The figures for 2015-16 are projected to be worse than this.
There is already so much pressure on health care professionals to improve but what improvement can come from more cuts to funding and training? Or is it spending that should be focused more on winter bugs and drinking that cause the biggest spike in the winter curse? It is very pessimistic but maybe the only defence the NHS has is to resist impending privatisation, this seems even more of a inevitable result during the winter squeeze.
Do you have any experience of the NHS winter curse? What ways do you think the NHS can cope with winter pressure? Comment and like.
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