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Red Cross defends claim of ‘humanitarian crisis’ in NHS

British charity’s chief executive renews warning about crisis in the UK’s hospital and ambulance services, after prime minister Theresa May rejects the description
Derriford Hospital

The British Red Cross has defended its description of a humanitarian crisis in the NHS, after the prime minister rejected the suggestion.

The charitys chief executive Mike Adamson renewed his warning about the scale of the pressures on the health service, saying there has been significant rise in demand for the Red Crosss help in recent months.

In a statement on Friday, the charity said there was a humanitarian crisis in hospital and ambulance services across the UK.

In an television interview on Sunday, Theresa May rejected the claim. She admitted there are huge pressures on the health service and that it is facing problems with an ageing population, but said that NHS funding is now

The British Red Cross has defended its description of a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in the NHS, after the prime minister rejected the suggestion.

The charity’s chief executive Mike Adamson renewed his warning about the scale of the pressures on the health service, saying there has been significant rise in demand for the Red Cross’s help in recent months.


British Red Cross staff and volunteers helped arrange transport for patients discharged from
Derriford Hospital in Plymouth last week, and settled them back into their homes. Picture: Apex

In a statement on Friday, the charity said there was a humanitarian crisis in hospital and ambulance services across the UK.

In an television interview on Sunday, Theresa May rejected the claim. She admitted there are ‘huge pressures’ on the health service and that it is facing problems with an ageing population, but said that NHS funding is now at record levels.

‘People in crisis’

In an article for The Times today, Mr Adamson said: ‘We see people discharged from hospital to chaotic situations at home, falling and not being found for hours, not being washed because there is no carer to help them.

‘These are people in crisis and in recent weeks we have started talking about this as a humanitarian crisis.

‘The patients our volunteers help feel sad and desperate. We don’t say this lightly and we have a duty to say it.’

He said he has been asked whether it is proportionate to use a term associated with crises such as those in Syria and Yemen to refer to the situation in the NHS.

‘To the British Red Cross, every crisis is personal,’ he said. ‘From famine to floods to loneliness, it’s not just the scale of the crisis that matters.

‘It’s that the person affected feels they are in crisis. That person suffering on the trolley in a corridor feels at crisis point.’

Mr Adamson said there must be proper funding to acknowledge an ageing population with multiple needs.

Supporting NHS staff

The charity, which provides support in disaster zones around the world, is working in 20 A&E departments supporting NHS staff, he said.

Red Cross staff worked with matrons at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth last week to arrange transport for discharged patients, and trained volunteers ensured the patients were settled back into their homes. The charity also supported the East Midlands Ambulance Service on new year’s day.

It was revealed on Friday that A&E departments had to divert patients for treatment elsewhere more than 140 times in December. Data from NHS England for the month shows there were 143 A&E diverts across England, a 63% rise on the 88 recorded for 1 December to 3 January the previous year.

Figures also show that a third of health trusts in England have issued alerts that they needed urgent action to cope.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he will be making a statement today. He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme that the situation had ‘eased significantly’ over the weekend.

He added: ‘This is always the busiest week but we need to work with the public to understand that emergency departments are there for what is says on the tin, for accidents and emergencies.’


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