GMB: GP's stark assessment of 'broken' NHS amid winter pressures
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Rishi Sunak has been urged to recall Parliament over an escalating crisis in the NHS. Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats Daisy Cooper hit out at the Prime Minister and Health Secretary Steve Barclay for being “nowhere to be seen”. She described the situation as being “life or death” for “huge numbers of patients”.
This comes as the NHS is gripped by a “twindemic” of soaring flu cases and a number of COVID-19 infections.
Ms Cooper, MP For St. Albans added: “The NHS is collapsing in front of our eyes whilst the [Prime Minister and Health Secretary] are nowhere to be seen.
“Parliament must be recalled & a national major incident declared to put the NHS back on a pandemic-style footing.”
Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), claimed that up to 500 people are dying each week as a result of delays and problems with urgent and emergency care.
He urged the Government to “get a grip” on the crisis before the situation worsens, warning that he “would not be at all surprised” if this December was the worst on record for A&E waiting times and hospital bed occupancy.
Dr Boyle continued: “Over 90 per cent of clinical leads last week reported that they had people waiting in their emergency department for more than 24 hours.
“The gallows joke about this is now that 24 hours in A&E is not a documentary, it’s a way of life.
“These long delays are harmful for people – they are sick and need hospital but are waiting in the corridor of an emergency department. It’s undignified and it’s dangerous.”
A number of NHS trusts, including South Western Ambulance Service and East of England Ambulance, have declared critical incidents in recent days.
The pressure on the health service is set to be compounded if nurses and ambulance workers carry out their threat to step up strikes in January unless the government increases its pay offer.
Health leaders have warned that the chaos could continue into the spring.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, warned that the chaos could continue until the spring.
He said: “It seems likely that the next three months will be defined by further critical incidents needing to be declared and the quality of care being compromised.”
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Mr Taylor, whose organisation represents the whole healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said: “Some of our members have said their ward staffing numbers are now below minimum levels as they work hard to set up more escalation spaces to support arrivals from ambulances, that they have had instances where their oxygen cylinders have run out temporarily, and that some of their patients have waited over two days for a bed.
“High rates of flu and Covid which have more than doubled, ongoing issues with delayed hospital discharges which is leaving over 12,000 medically fit patients stuck in hospital, and the aftershock of industrial action are compounding the longer-term issues of over 130,000 NHS vacancies, a decade-long lack of investment in capital and an elective backlog which continues to grow past seven million people.”
Meanwhile, the British Medical Association (BMA) said the Government’s “deafening” silence and failure to act was a “political choice”, claiming it is leading to patients “dying unnecessarily”.
This week, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued a warning to families about high levels of flu, COVID-19 and scarlet fever as children geared up to return to school.
They advised children to stay at home from school or nursery if they feel unwell and have a fever.
UKHSA chief medical adviser Professor Susan Hopkins also warned that adults should not “visit vulnerable people unless urgent” when feeling unwell.
She said: “Adults should try to stay home when unwell and if you do have to go out, wear a face covering. When unwell don’t visit healthcare settings or visit vulnerable people unless urgent.”
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