NHS trusts fear this winter could be ‘more difficult than the last’

Full story in The Guardian, 22 October 2018

There are “clear warning signs” that the coming winter could be even tougher than the last for NHS trusts, staff and patients, a report has warned.

They include pressures across all hospital activity, higher levels of staff vacancies and a more tired and pressured workforce, according to the body which represents trusts. It voiced concern over the “weaker state” of social care, even when accounting for the recent announcement of £240m extra funding, and “more fragile” primary care.

Last winter, corridors were overflowing with patients and non-urgent operations were postponed as staff worked to clear the backlog. The pressure continued well into January, with A&E units diverting patients to other hospitals and thousands of patients being looked after by ambulance crews for at least half an hour before they could be handed over to nurses.

The report by NHS Providers says the challenges this winter are likely to be even more severe than the last, when the problems were compounded by cold weather and the worst flu strain in seven years.