Wednesday, January 7, 2015

NHS in Critical Condition as A&E Waiting Times are Worst in a Decade

A symbol of Britain's National Health Service today
Record number of hospital declare 'major incidents', as operations and outpatient appointments are cancelled


Tuesday 06 January 2015

There are grave doubts over the NHS’ capacity to cope with ever-growing demand this winter after emergency departments recorded their worst week in a decade, and more than a dozen hospitals were forced to implement “major incident” emergency plans.
Despite mild weather and without a serious outbreak of seasonal illness, this week at least 15 hospitals in England have had to cancel operations, call in extra staff or limit A&E services to only severely ill or injured patients. 
The Government has blamed the drastic decline in hospital performance on growing numbers of frail, older patients, but charities supporting the elderly, including Age UK and Independent Age, said that cuts to council care budgets were now having a knock-on effect upon the NHS.

The warnings came as:
* Latest NHS England figures showed that 92.6 per cent of patients were seen in four hours at England’s A&Es and minor injury units from October to December 2014 – below the 95 per cent target and the worst performance in a decade.
*Only 83.1 per cent of patients were seen in four hours at major A&Es in the week before Christmas – the worst week on record.
*12 hospitals in England declared major incidents, and three others significant incidents, because of pressures on A&E and bed capacity
* Hospitals and ambulance services had to take drastic measures to meet demand. South Western Ambulance Services erected a temporary treatment tent in the grounds of Great Western Hospital in Swindon as a “precautionary measure”, and a fire engine was used to transport a patient to hospital in York.

Hospitals around the country are now telling patients not to visit the A&E unless they are facing an emergency. Although unprecedented numbers have declared major incidents, many others have cancelled operations or called in extra resources.

Delays are being blamed on an influx of patients, with reports that levels of flu and chest infections are beginning to rise. However, long delays are also reported in transferring elderly patients out of hospital and into community care, causing hold-ups all the way back to the A&E door.

Latest figures show that in December, nearly 39,000 sick patients were forced to wait on trolleys for up to 12 hours after a decision to admit them to hospital – three times as many as last year.

The number of delayed transfers of care is up 20 per cent, NHS England’s director for acute episodes Professor Keith Willett said. He added that delays may be down to availability of care home places or social care packages.

“Obviously social care services have taken a substantial reduction in funding in recent years whereas the NHS, albeit not having any growth in funding, has had its core budget protected,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World At One.

Latest figures have not been released on A&E performance in Scotland and Wales, but many hospitals have reported severe pressures.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, paid tribute to NHS staff, “busting a gut”, and said that the number of frail elderly patients requiring hospital care was the “key problem” facing the NHS.

“If you’re over 80 and you turn up at an A&E department, the chances are you won’t go home, you’ll be admitted to the hospital and you’ll probably stay in the hospital for a very long time… across the country [people] are saying that is the key problem because many of those people would be better looked after at home,” he told Sky News.
Mr Hunt added that NHS chief executive Simon Stevens’ five-year plan could resolve the problem, with greater investment in GP care in the community.
However, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said that the Coalition Government’s council budget cuts had a created “a crisis in social care” that was “dragging down the NHS”.
“We have record numbers of older people trapped in hospital who can’t go home because the nursing home places aren’t there or care in the home isn’t there,” he told the BBC. “Because wards are staying full, A&E can’t admit to the ward, pressure is backing up through A&E and ambulance services can’t hand over patients at A&E. That is the root cause of what we are facing right now.”
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said social care services were “overwhelmed”, meaning that older people were more likely to end up in A&E and stay in hospital for longer.
“Politicians on all sides must recognise that there can be no long term solution to the NHS winter crisis until Government investment in social care – in the form of its central grant to councils – significantly rises,” she said.
Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, said that cuts to social care budgets “mean fewer frail elderly patients receive the support they need to stay out of hospital”.

Andy Burnham, the shadow Health Secretary, blamed council budget cuts as the 'root cause' of the A&E crisis (Getty)

Chris Ham, chief executive of the influential King’s Fund think-tank said that the country’s health and social care system was now “fundamentally broken.”
“What is needed is a single system in which primary, community and hospital care work together to provide services that effectively meet the needs of the population,” he said.
Dr Clifford Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, warned that A&Es were still understaffed and that “exit block” caused by a lack of hospital beds and delays in discharging patients risked safety of patients at the emergency department, adding that in some cases “mortality increases” because of heightened pressures.

Case study: ‘I almost lost my foot’ long wait for ambulance

Rugby player Luigi Segadelli had to wait three hours lying face-down on a soggy pitch for an ambulance on Saturday after breaking his leg during a match. Mr Segadelli, 30, waited so long, paramedics told him he was in danger of losing his foot, which began to turn blue.
I was cold and shaking. When the paramedics saw how long it was taking to get colour back into my foot they said I had been in the cold so long there was a risk of losing my foot. That’s when I started panicking.”
Mr Segadelli broke his tibia and fibula while playing for Morriston RFC in Swansea and the game was called off. His teammates covered him with blankets as they waited for an ambulance which did not arrive until almost 6pm, by which time the floodlights had to be turned on.
“When we finally got to the hospital, I was pretty out of it but I did notice how incredibly busy A&E was. To be fair, the paramedics and all the hospital staff were brilliant and treated me really well once the ambulance arrived. It was just the wait that was so annoying.”
The Welsh Ambulance Service said emergency demand was unprecedented and they were unable to respond to some calls in the time they would have liked.
Mr Segadelli, added: “I want an apology for the delay – they must have the decency to make sure it does not happen to anyone else again.”
Major incident plans are put in place when patient demand reaches a point that threatens the delivery of hospital service. Bed capacity may have been reached, or may be near being reached. Resources are redirected to A&E and to discharging patients in order to free up beds. Routine operations are cancelled and extra agency staff can be drafted in

1 Aberdeen Royal Infirmary: Up to 20 operations postponed and patients being redirected to GPs
2 Scarborough Hospital: Declared on Monday afternoon
3 Royal Bolton Hospital: Declared yesterday
4 Royal Stoke University Hospital: Declared late on Monday
5 Stafford Hospital: Declared late on Monday
6 Walsall Manor Hospital: Declared yesterday
7 Peterborough City Hospital: Declared on Monday
8 Norfolk and Norwich Hospital: Declared a major incident on New Year’s Eve, then reinstated the measures yesterday
9 Bedford Hospital: ‘Significant’ incident declared yesterday
10 Morriston Hospital: Patients warned of long waits and urged not to visit for minor illnesses
11 Princess of Wales Hospital: Patients warned of long waits and urged not to visit for minor illnesses
12 Gloucestershire Royal Hospital: Declared on Monday, for second time in a month
13 Cheltenham General Hospital: Declared on Monday, for second time in a month
14 Ashford Hospital: Declared late on Monday
15 St Peter’s Hospital: Declared late on Monday
16 Croydon University Hospital: Declared yesterday
17 Princess Royal Hospital: ‘Significant’ incident declared on Monday, some operations cancelled
18 Royal Sussex Hospital: ‘Significant’ incident declared on Monday, some operations cancelled


  1. Replies
    1. Careful questioning the Obamacare Politburo. They'll airbrush you

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. From personal observation and experience with state run health care I don't believe you "fix healthcare" by imposing a bloated bureaucracy, dictating everything from the broadest principles to the most minute details of how the system is to be run.

    Eventually what remains is nothing but a shell of a healthcare system while the administration of the system sucks the life blood from it. Come crunch time it is the front line health care providers in the system who are "rationalized" as being unnecessary. The administrative bureaucrats never cut themselves from their sustaining life blood economically—so the problems described in this article are only the logical consequences of replacing a system that ran better than the one that replaced it.

    But the "progressive" mind set is all about embracing progressive bureaucracy, but unwilling to see the consequences of where it's leading. Willful blindness, I guess.

    1. Whatever we do, let’s not allow the new Congress, and Senate to be distracted from ending the nightmare of Obamacare, and immigration. We must get rid of this these deceitful policies that this Administration has put upon us once and for all.
      In my eyes, Obamacare was never about health care at all, it's about people control. The liar in chief and his minions continue down their deceitful path, to misrepresent the truth .The Obama Administration is a continuation of the Clinton Administration much of the same people and definitely the same policies and goals, and that’s another reason to STOP Hillary Clinton in her tracks. Like everything else from this lying, deceitful, underhanded, crafty, bunch, it was a premeditated act of deceit.

      The good news as we enter 2015 the Dear Leader (err, president) has managed to very nearly decimate the Democratic Party, leaving it weaker in Congress and throughout the nation than it has been in memory. The bad news is that he has weakened the nation in the eyes of the world. He is not trusted by world leaders and his next two years in office will only encourage our enemies. So Welcome to the US Republic of America where the Chancellor (err, president) rules by Decree and the Reichstag (err, Congress) is nothing more than a rubber stamp for the Dear Leader.

      The good news is that it is clear that a majority of Americans disapprove strongly of the Dear Leader’s (err, the president’s) policies and registered their disapproval in the recent landslide against Obama's party in 2014.

      The bad news is that the political situation is dangerously revolutionary and could lead to bloody civil war in the next couple of years because We The People no longer have representation in our federal government.

      The bad news is that Obama has weakened the nation in the eyes of the world. He is not trusted by most of the world leaders and his next two years in office will only encourage our enemies.

      The good news as 2015 is upon us President Obama has managed to very nearly decimate the Democratic Party, leaving it weaker and more than likely they can be beat.

      I for one hope that Mike Huckabee would enter the presidential race and get the nomination. I think that he would make an exceptional president and return Christian values to our nation. I would definitely vote for him. Huckabee expresses conservative views, but he is not the only Republican I could support for President, some of the others would be Mitt Romney, John Bolton, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Pete King of NY, and Marco Rubio, any of those would make a very good choice.

      Lets hope the new Congress is going to act on the voter’s behalf and will restrain Obama’s efforts to push through his dangerous programs that harm the best interests of the United States, and Obama’s executive actions with regard to immigration..

    2. Hilda, most of what you say makes sense, but not in the context of this particular post. In the future please try to confine your responses to the primary focus of the post.

      For instance if the article is about dogs and cats, we don't want to hear about trains, planes, automobiles and busses. ;-)

      I'm sure you understand. Thaks for your future cooperatiin.

      ~ FreeThinke

  4. Government wrecks and distorts whatever market it enters.

    Inflation in the two markets almost completely dominated by government diktat: education and health care, suffer from cost hiding, price distortion and rampant inflation many times that of the rest of the economy.

  5. Great Britain has a better heath care system than we do. Period. Only a pathological liar wouldn't admit that obvious fact. By most all measures you are healthier British than American, and much healthier too if French. And in the end, that's all that really matters. Whether medicine is socialized or not (a silly question, because it's never that simple), the outcome certainly weighs a lot here to say the least. Without our health, most all of what concerns us is pointless, banality.


    1. What's the basis for your opinion, Jersey? Have you lived in Britain as a British subject and experienced the wonder and glory of i all for yourself, or are you just reiterating tired old leftist talking points?

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. From what I understand from my friends in the UK, the NHS is good for acute emergencies (heart attack, for example), but care for chronic conditions has recently deteriorated. Very difficult to get an appointment for a chronic condition not considered life-threatening.

    1. Yes and no, AOW. I have friends in and form Britain, myself, and what you say is true, but only for people under 60 or thereabouts. Once you start to get "old," the British government would prefer you to die sooner rather than later.

      There is, however, some truth to Jersey's assertion that most British and Europeans are healthier than we. The reason, I think, is simple: They WALK and ride BICYLES everywhere. Many don't own a car. Public Transportation is better and far more abundant than ours -- at least when I spent time there, admittedly more than thirty years ago.

      Also, the British place far less emphasis on FOOD than we do. They tend to eat less, eat out much less, and to restrict their intake far more than we. BUT the smoke more, and do quite a bit of drinking, so who knows why they tend to be more fit than most American men.

      I am sure, however that their health is not good, BECAUSE of the NHS, but more likely in SPITE of it.

      I know too their cancer survival rate is VASTLY inferior to ours.



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