- Created: Thursday, 02 November 2017 16:45
- Written by Robert Clough
RGC supporters joined the Docs not Cops demonstration in London against racist checks and changes in the NHS on 30 September.
As the pressures on the NHS grow as a result of funding cuts and staff shortages, it is likely that the crisis this winter will be even worse than that of 2016/17. A&E waiting times continue to increase, and hospital chief executives are being sacked where their hospital’s performance is deemed particularly bad. Plans to make more hospital beds available by reducing the numbers of patients whose discharge has been delayed by insufficient social support are way short of target. Although the government has signalled the end of the 1% pay cap for the public sector, there is no evidence that it will increase NHS funding to pay for even the very modest wage increases NHS unions are requesting – an average 3.9% plus a one-off payment of £800, estimated to cost £2.5bn a year. As it is, many hospitals are falling short of their financial savings targets as inflation hits 2.9% rather than the anticipated 2.3%, creating an extra £500m gap.
Performance figures released in mid-September show the intensifying pressures on the NHS:
- The number of patients waiting for operations longer than the target 18 weeks, 382,000 out of a total 3.78 million on waiting lists, is at its highest level since September 2008.
- Despite the focus on reducing emergency admissions, the number reached 486,669 in August 2017, 3.4% more than August 2016.
- Although there was a slight drop in A&E attendances in August 2017 compared to August 2016, there is a year-on-year rise of 0.9%.
- Ambulance response times continue to be below target, with 67.9% of Red 1 calls being met within the eight-minute target for 75% of calls, and only 60.1% of Red 2 calls meeting the same target.
- There were 181,692 ‘delayed transfer of care days’ (the total number of days spent in a hospital bed by a patient whose discharge had been delayed) in July 2017, scarcely fewer than the 184,578 recorded for July 2016. This equates to 5,861 beds, only just below the figure of 5,954 a year earlier. Plans to free up an extra 2,000-3,000 beds by reducing the number occupied by patients whose discharge is delayed will not be met.