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10 times you couldn’t ignore the NHS and care crisis

March 8, 2017 11:00 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

As health and social care services struggle increasingly with a lack of funding and increasing demand we wonder how much longer the Government can ignore this mounting?

In the last six months alone there have been more and more examples of the impacts of these cuts across the country…


When inspectors described the NHS as standing on a' 'burning platform'.

In March, the Care Quality Commission cited rising demands and economic pressures in their review of NHS trusts. Their review of all 136 hospital trusts found 11 per cent were inadequate on safety and a staggering 70 per cent required improvement.

Hospital chief inspector Professor Sir Mike Richards said of the situation: "The scale of the challenge that hospitals are now facing is unprecedented - rising demand coupled with economic pressures are creating difficult-to-manage situations that are putting patient care at risk".


When summer hospital bed shortages reached winter levels

In February, research by the Financial Times found that the NHS is now in a state of "permanent winter", when pressure on services traditionally feel particularly acute. In July to September 2016, just under nine out of 10 beds were occupied at any one time. Just five years ago, even winter occupancy levels were lower than this.


When research showed that low staffing levels are posing risks to women in childbirth.

In January, a report by the National Federation of Women's Institutes and the NCT found that 50 per cent of women experience at least one red flag event during childbirth. Red flag events are alerts that there may not be enough midwives available to provide care to the mother and baby. They include a woman having to wait 60 minutes or more before being given stitches or 30 minutes or more for pain relief.

Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Adviser, NCT, said: "Our research has exposed a crisis in maternity care… Severe staffing shortages must be acted on so that every family receives an acceptable level of care".


When waiting times across the NHS were some of the longest recorded

According to the King's Fund, there will soon be more than four million patients waiting for operations in England.

The current benchmark standard is that 92 per cent of patients should start consultant-led treatment within 18 weeks of being referred. In 2016 the average fell below this standard. In the four years up to November 2016, the number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for non-urgent surgery more than doubled.


When the British Red Cross had to prop NHS and care services up

Over winter 2016/17 the NHS experienced some of its busiest weeks ever. The British Red Cross stepped in to help alleviate some of this pressure, providing emergency volunteers and calling on their partner, Land Rover, to lend vehicles to help transport patients.


When, in the space of less than a week, two English NHS trusts declared the highest level of emergency and 17 trusts declared the second highest level.

From 28th December to 2nd January 2016/17, the winter crisis was at a peak. Two trusts, declaring the highest level of emergency, were unable to give patients comprehensive care. Across the month of December overall, seven trusts declared the highest level of emergency 15 times.


When hospitals ran out of beds.

In February, a report by the Royal College of Physicians reported that hospitals are asking patients with the least severe conditions to sleep in corridors in order to free up beds. This follows calls from the Royal College of Surgeons for a review of beds after the deaths of two patients, which were linked to from lack of critical care bed capacity.


When every ambulance service in England failed to meet response time targets

In November 2016, data showed that every ambulance service in England failed to meet the response time target of eight minutes for the past 16 months. The data revealed that the number of patients waiting for ambulances for more than an hour had almost tripled in the past two years. Keith Willett, the director of acute care at NHS England, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that "This is a system-wide problem".


When Age UK found that 1.2 million people do not get the social care they need.

In November, the charity Age UK found that almost one in eight people over 65 are not getting the support they need with tasks such as eating and going to the toilet. Over 696,000 of these older people are getting no help at all. These shocking figures indicate that as local government funding is cut by the Conservative Government, social care services are struggling to cope with demand.


When most hospital trusts and commissioners will finish next year in deficit

In March, research by the Kings Fund showed that, after hospital trusts ran up record deficits of £2.45bn last year, 53% are now "pessimistic" about ending the next year in financial balance. 63% of clinical commissioning groups had the same outlook. Furthermore, 74% of trusts and 86% of CCGs doubt they will achieve the huge savings expected of them by 2020.