NHS will struggle to cope over winter, Nuffield Trust warns

The Nuffield Trust claims that just 3.6 per cent of patients took up over a third of all bed capacity in acute hospitals in England last winter.

The report suggests that the patients that made up this 3.6 per cent were most likely frail and elderly people who hospital’s felt were not ready to return to their own home or care setting despite treatment being finished.

Last year the NHS received extra funding of almost £700 million specifically to deal with pressures caused by winter. The Nuffield Trust has warned that the fact that no extra funding for winter is being allocated this year means the position will be even worse in the coming months, and that another 14,000 beds would be required to meet demands.

Nigel Edwards, Nuffield Trust chief executive, said: “These figures show exactly why NHS Trusts found it so difficult to meet the four hour A&E target last winter – despite being able to take advantage of record funding specifically intended to deal with winter pressures. Given that there is no extra money for winter this year, they are likely to find it even more difficult to cope in the coming months, especially as almost all Trusts are now in deficit.

“Because such a small percentage of patients, most of them frail and elderly, occupied so much of hospitals’ bed time last winter, even a tiny fluctuation in numbers among these patients had a disproportionate  impact on the number of beds a hospital could free up.”

Sasha Karakusevic, report author, said: “It is clear that frontline staff across the health and care services are working very hard to do their best for patients. But demand is outstripping capacity at present, as it did last winter, and very focussed action that addresses the pinch points is needed now.”

Read more

Event Diary

Safety & Health Expo is the UK’s largest event for the health and safety sector, helping 13,000+ global professionals source innovative solutions across occupational health, wellbeing, PPE and more.