NHS Providers: Health service needs emergency cash to avoid winter crisis
NHS trusts will not have sufficient capacity to manage this winter safely without immediate extra funding, according to NHS Providers.
This is despite the level of planning and support for this winter – led jointly by NHS England and NHS Improvement – being considerably more developed than last year, and emergency care performance being given greater priority.
NHS Providers said in a report that it had found extra social care funding is helping to increase capacity in about a third of local areas, and this should help to reduce the delays faced by some patients in those areas when they are medically fit to leave hospital but are unable to do so because of a lack of available support in the community.
Combination of risks
But the trade association said these improvements are being outweighed by a combination of increasing risks.
It said NHS trusts are not consistently benefiting from the extra £1 billion of social care investment announced in the spring budget, as planned, and as a result delayed transfers of care for patients remain 'stubbornly high'.
Demand for emergency care is continuing its 'inexorable rise', key staff shortages are growing, and primary and social care capacity, as a whole, remains very challenged, it said.
NHS Providers also said trusts are under greater financial pressure than last year and therefore less able to afford the extra capacity they urgently need.
NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said: 'Trusts are doing all they can to prepare for this winter in the face of increasing demand for their services and competing priorities.
'And they are benefiting from much better national level planning from NHS England and NHS Improvement, which is helping to identify and support those local areas that are most at risk.
'But despite this, the overwhelming view of NHS trusts is that without immediate extra funding they will not have sufficient capacity to manage this winter safely.
'This risk has been heightened because, in many areas, the £1 billion of extra support for social care announced in the budget will not ease winter pressures on the NHS, as the government had planned.
'Patients will therefore be put at greater risk as local trusts won't have the extra beds, staff and services they need to meet the extra demand they will face.
'The only way to mitigate these risks is through an urgent NHS cash injection to ensure the NHS has the necessary capacity this winter.'
NHS national director for urgent and emergency care Pauline Philip said: 'The NHS will face challenges this winter, as it does every year, but as NHS Providers has stated, winter planning is more advanced than it was last year and, as they argue, special attention is being paid to areas where pressures are likely to be greatest.
'We are currently in the process of assessing how many extra beds trusts are planning to open over winter and early returns indicate that this will be more than 3,000.'
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