Winter 2019 set to be toughest ever for NHS

Waiting roomAfter the strains on the NHS healthcare system last winter and during the heatwave this summer, things look set to get worse for patients this coming winter.

Targets for A&E waits, cancer care and hospital operations have not been met for over a year and could be set to worsen if we have another cold winter.

The target for hospital bed occupancy is considered to be safe when at no more than 85%. The first weekly winter report released by NHS England shows that, on average, hospitals in England are already nearly at 95% occupancy.

This causes knock on problems as elective surgeries may be cancelled due to recovery beds not being available. And of course, the cost to patients of delayed surgery can be immeasurable. It can exacerbate psychological problems such as depression, create uncertainty for the patient and their family, and unfortunately in some cases, delays can be fatal.

The 85% occupancy rate exists to ensure that outbreaks of illnesses such as norovirus, flu or the winter vomiting bug can be dealt with efficiently. By keeping beds free to enable these outbreaks to be dealt with, hospitals can reduce the spread of any outbreak by containing the illness to specific wards.

Aside from a general increase in demand on the NHS services, bed occupancy is also affected by delays in discharge, often the more elderly patients who are in need of social care.

A more pressing concern is where physical beds are available, but due to gaps in staffing, it would be unsafe to bring them into use.

As far as A&E goes, although there have been no closures yet, 8 hospitals have had to divert ambulances to other facilities. Even when not being diverted, 11% of patients are waiting more than the 15 minute target for handover from ambulance to A&E. This of course can mean delays in diagnosis and vital minutes being lost, sometimes resulting in long term conditions that could otherwise have been avoided.


If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself affected by these types of problems during the coming winter, or indeed at any other time of the year, you may be able to make a claim for medical negligence compensation. Blackwater Law offer free initial advice and can represent you on a no win no fee basis. Give us a call today.

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Call today and speak to Zoe Diss, specialist medical negligence solicitor. Find out if you can claim compensation.

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