The crisis that surrounds the National Health Service it will continue until Easter, health leaders have warned, as top doctors accused ministers of letting patients die needlessly through inaction.
More than a dozen trusts and ambulance services have declared critical incidents in recent days, with Increasing demand, increase in flu and covid cases and an overburdened workforce that puts pressure on the health service.
But amid warnings that up to 500 people a week may be dying due to delays in emergency care only, and Oxygen for seriously ill patients who are running out of In parts of England, NHS leaders warned that more chaos was to be expected until April.
“It seems likely that the next three months will be defined by the need to declare more critical incidents and by compromising the quality of care,” said Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents the entire health care system in England and Wales. and Northern Ireland.
Ministers face increasing pressure to control the crisis. The British Medical Association (BMA) said the government’s “deafening” silence and lack of action was a “political choice” that was leading to patients “dying needlessly”.
The Liberal Democrats urged the government to recall parliament, while Labor blamed the government’s “mismanagement” for creating a sense of “danger” around the NHS.
Taylor said the situation had reached a crisis point: “Some of our members have said their room staffing numbers are now below minimum levels as they work hard to set up more climbing spaces to support arrivals of ambulances, that they have had cases where their oxygen cylinders have temporarily run out, and that some of their patients have waited more than two days for a bed.
“High flu and covid rates that have more than doubled, ongoing problems with delayed hospital discharges that are leaving more than 12,000 medically fit patients stuck in hospital, and the aftershock of industrial action is compounding the problems. term of over 130,000 NHS vacancies, a decade of lack of investment in capital and an elective backlog that continues to grow beyond seven million people.”
Taylor spoke as thousands of other paramedics, nurses and doctors prepare to abandon salary and conditions. Ambulance personnel will go on strike on January 11 and 23, while nurses will go on strike on January 18 and 19. A vote for industrial action by young doctors in England will open on 9th January.
The growing crisis comes when the United Kingdom Health The Safety Agency (UKHSA) has issued a warning to families about high levels of flu, Covid-19 and scarlet fever as children return to childcare and education settings.
“If your child is unwell and has a fever, they should stay home from school or nursery until they feel better and the fever is gone,” UKHSA chief medical adviser Professor Susan Hopkins said. He added that adults should not “visit vulnerable people unless it is urgent” when they feel unwell.
“Adults should try to stay home when they are not feeling well, and if they have to go out, wear a face covering. When you are not feeling well, do not visit health care facilities or visit vulnerable people unless it is urgent,” he said.
On Monday, Robert Halfon, the education minister, claimed that Rishi Sunak was treating the crisis as a “top priority”, but neither the prime minister nor his health secretary, Steve Barclay, chose to comment.
“It is disingenuous for the prime minister to talk about ‘supporting the NHS’ in his new year message, when his own health secretary is not discussing how this crisis can be resolved,” said Professor Philip Banfield, president of the BMA.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said it was “completely inexplicable” to him why neither Sunak nor Barclay “have raised their heads or shown their faces to say exactly what they are doing to control this crisis and support patients and to the staff”. who work in intolerable conditions and break their entrails under the most extraordinary pressures”.
Although it appears that ambulance services and A&E departments are bearing the brunt of the strain, the entire NHS is now under great pressure, Taylor said.
“While secondary care is where these challenges are perhaps most visible, all parts of the NHS, including primary, community and mental health care, are under great pressure.”
The current burden is so severe that it is also derailing efforts to address the huge backlog of operations and surgeries that has ballooned to seven million in England alone, Taylor added.
NHS England is expected to report on Tuesday that a record number of cancer patients received treatment last year, but the waiting lists were also the longest on record.
“The current situation in the SNS it is intolerable and unsustainableboth for our patients and hard-working staff desperately trying to keep up with incredibly high levels of demand,” Banfield said.
“The BMA has repeatedly invited the government to sit down and talk about the pressures on our health service, but their silence is deafening.”
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine reiterated its claim that between 300 and 500 people die every week as a result of delays and problems with urgent and emergency careafter NHS England chief strategy officer Chris Hopson said he did not “recognize” that estimate.
Banfield said it was clear that patients were dying unnecessarily due to the state of the health service.
“The government must fulfill its obligations to the public. This is a political choice and patients are dying needlessly because of that choice,” he said.
“The government must step up and take immediate action. Without intervention, waiting lists will continue to grow, patients will continue to suffer, and staff will continue to leave.”
Lib Dem health spokeswoman Daisy Cooper said: “This is a life and death situation for a large number of patients. The NHS is collapsing before our eyes, while the prime minister and health secretary are nowhere to be seen.
“This is a national crisis and the country will never forgive the government if it refuses to recall parliament while hundreds of people die in parked ambulances or hospital corridors.”