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Readers panel: Will the NHS be able to cope with this year’s winter pressures? 

More planning than ever has gone into managing healthcare this winter in England, with NHS England announcing measures including an extra £1 billion for social care to help hospitals discharge patients earlier. Despite the planning, some fear another crisis is inevitable. Nursing Standard readers have their say. 

More planning than ever has gone into managing healthcare in England this coming winter, with NHS England announcing measures including an extra £1 billion for social care to help hospitals discharge patients earlier. Despite the planning, some fear another crisis is inevitable. Nursing Standard readers have their say 

winter
More planning than ever has gone into managing healthcare
in England this coming winter. Picture: Neil O’Connor

Jane Scullion is a respiratory nurse consultant in Leicester 
@Jane Scullion 

scullionIn the TV series Game of Thrones the stark warning is that winter is coming. NHS staff have endured almost 70 winters, yet we always seem to be taken by surprise. Winter inevitably leads to a healthcare crisis, but the term ‘winter pressures’ almost feels redundant these days as the pressure is on all year round. With increasingly complex hospital admissions and insufficient bed numbers, more pressure on community services and a significant lack of staff, the NHS may struggle to cope even with extra preparation. 

 

Linda Drake is a practice nurse in south London 

drakeThis winter could be make or break for the NHS, with ‘winter pressures’ the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The government may have updated and invested in their urgent and emergency care plan, but plans to open more hospital beds will depend largely on nurse staffing levels, which have not been helped by Brexit. Many patients and staff are also sceptical about the efficacy of flu vaccine following the publicity around the poor levels of immunity last year. A storm waiting to happen? 

 

Pete Hawkins is a staff nurse in an emergency department in Bristol

hawkinsMany NHS staff no doubt feel like the fictional characters in Game of Thrones, with winter’s approach filling us with dread. When patients call 111 they often speak to non-clinical call handlers rather than clinical staff, who in most cases tell them to go to A&E. No amount of organisation or streaming will help if we cannot give people the right advice and reassurance, or provide adequate community care so that patients can be discharged safely and quickly when hospitals are under intense pressures.

 

Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse and Phd student in Nottingham 
@lizcharalambou 

charalambousNHS staff will rise to the challenge of meeting the nation’s healthcare needs, as we do every winter. The threat of a potential flu epidemic is ever-present, but this year we have the added issues of more nurses leaving the profession than entering, overseas workers discouraged from working in the UK due to concerns over Brexit, and public sector workers’ dissatisfaction over pay. A national strategy is vital, as is personal preparation for staff, such as keeping healthy and accessing the flu vaccine.


Readers panel members give their views in a personal capacity only 

 

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