Further NHS winter plans set out

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard has announced new NHS plans in preparation for winter.

These include rapid response teams to help those who have fallen at home and 24/7 'care traffic control centres'.

The control centres are set to be launched in every local area and aim to manage demand and capacity around the country by tracking beds and attendances. They will be run by clinicians and experts to make decisions on emerging challenges such as mutual aid or diverting hospitals.

Respiratory infections, including covid, flu and pneumonia are expected to cause significant pressures on the NHS this year, with some reports saying half of all NHS beds this winter may be occupied by those with respiratory infections.

Serious respiratory infections will be treated in new hubs in local areas, where patients can receive same day access to care outside of hospital. This should create additional capacity for hospitals and ambulance services.

Local teams will be sent to people who have fallen at home or in care homes to avoid them taking unnecessary trips to hospital. It is expected this could free up around 55,000 ambulance trips. There will also be extra remote support given to care providers, as currently around 2 in 5 hospital admissions from care homes are fall-related.

NHS chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: “Winter comes hot on the heels of an extremely busy summer – and with the combined impact of flu, covid and record NHS staff vacancies – in many ways, we are facing more than the threat of a ‘twindemic’ this year.

“So it is right that we prepare as much as possible –the NHS is going further than it ever has before in anticipation of a busy winter, and today we have set out further plans to step up these preparations – building on our existing plans to boost capacity set out in August this year.

“Whether it be new services to support people who have fallen at home, hubs to treat respiratory infections, or system control centres helping us to navigate pressures across the entire country, every one of these initiatives will make a real impact on the ground – helping to relieve pressure on frontline staff as well as seeing patients quickly and directing them to where they can receive the best possible care.

“Vaccines remain an important part of our defence this winter – everyone who is eligible has the power to protect themselves from both flu and covid – so please do book in today if you haven’t already”.

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