the National Health Service in England is facing a “perfect winter storm” with 10 times as many people in hospital with flu as at this time last year, and ambulances experiencing deadly delays arriving at the emergency room with sick patients.
There were an average of 344 patients a day in hospitals in England with flu last week, more than 10 times the number at the beginning of last December.
And up to three in 10 patients arriving at hospitals by ambulance wait at least 30 minutes to be delivered to A&E crews. Health Bosses say the crisis is causing deaths.
There were around 22,883 delays of half an hour or more across all hospital trusts in the week to November 20, the figures show. That represents 29% of the 79,076 ambulance arrivals. The proportion increased to 23% during the winter of 2021/22.
The figures on flu and ambulance delays were released by NHS England on Thursday and offered the first weekly snapshot of how hospitals are performing this season.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents the healthcare system in England, said: “These figures really underscore how overburdened services already are as we head into a perfect winter storm. Significantly more people are in the hospital because of the flu compared to this time last year, coupled with the fact that covid-19 hasn’t gone away.”
The NHS weekly snapshot report also revealed that around 13% of ambulance transfers last week, equivalent to 10,020 patients, were delayed by more than an hour.
Martin Flaherty, managing director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, said patients were coming to harm, “forced to wait in the back of our ambulances, while our crews are stuck and therefore unable to respond to calls. patients who need us”. community”.
It added: “The life-saving safety net provided by NHS ambulance services is severely compromised by these unnecessary delays, with patients dying and harmed as a result on a daily basis.”
The figures are another sign of the pressures hospitals are facing, amid a record backlog in treatment and delays in discharging people who no longer need to be in hospital. An average of 13,179 daily beds last week were occupied by people about to be discharged.
Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, said: “This year’s first weekly data shows the considerable pressure staff face ahead of what is likely to be the NHS’s most challenging winter yet.”
Figures from NHS Digital also showed that the number of written complaints about primary care, GPs and dental practices rose 39.4% to 120,064 in 2021-22, with communication, clinical treatment and attitude, the staff behavior or values the most common causes of GP practice issues.
Louise Ansari, national director of Healthwatch England, said the figures “reflect the growing dissatisfaction reported to us by patients, particularly about access to GPS and dentists.
GPs made a record number of appointments in England in October, with the highest proportion of patients seen face-to-face since the start of the pandemic, new figures show. More than seven in 10 people (71.3%) were seen face-to-face, the highest proportion since the coronavirus outbreak began, though still below the pre-pandemic level of around 80%.
However, separate data from NHS Digital shows that the number of full-time equivalent qualified permanent GPs has fallen year-on-year for the fifth consecutive month.