Rishi Sunak is set to announce his plan to boost NHS emergency care within weeks amid warnings that up to 500 people are dying every week due to delays.
The prime minister is expected to lay out the details of his primary and urgent care recovery plans, and some experts believe it could come as soon as this month, as the creaky health service moves up his list of priorities.
First announced in the Autumn Declaration, the plan has become more crucial to Mr Sunak’s agenda following a difficult, strike-plagued festive period in which more than a dozen NHS trusts and ambulance services have declared critical incidents.
Both the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the Society for Acute Medicine have issued warnings about the “shocking” state of emergency care, including an alert that it is currently “unsafe and unworthy”.
Although the Prime Minister has yet to confirm speculation that he might deliver a keynote address outlining the Main challenges of the Governmenta source made it clear that his “priorities” include tackling NHS delays.
Recovery plans are set to focus on improving ambulance response times for Category 2 incidents, including heart attacks and strokes, to 30 minutes over the next year.
Coverage of these calls has recently been highlighted by paramedic strikes. While the official target for Category 2 waits is 18 minutes, responses average more than 40 minutes.
There will also be a focus on improving A&E wait times and access to GPs, so everyone who needs an appointment can get one within two weeks.
Dr Tim Cooksley, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, urged Sunak to declare a “major national NHS incident”.
He said: “The current situation in urgent and emergency care is shocking. It is in critical condition for patients and it is extremely difficult for healthcare personnel who are unable to provide the care that they want.”
Saffron Cordery, interim chief executive of NHS Providers, said the pressure on the NHS was “equivalent” to that in the early stage of the pandemic.
Commons Health Committee Chairman Steve Brine said Yo that plans should include measures to reduce demand for NHS emergency care, which has skyrocketed in recent years, and to fund better access to services in the community, including pharmacies, to reduce pressure on hospitals and GPs.
President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Dr. Adrian Boyle warned that up to 500 people die every week. due to delays in emergency care.
Dr Boyle predicted that the waiting time figures to be released in the coming weeks are likely to be “the worst we’ve ever seen” as he called for an increase in hospital capacity and alternative ways to access treatment.
“We can’t go on like this. it is insecure and it is unworthy,he told Times Radio.
Mr Brine, a Conservative MP for Winchester, said the problem was one of demand and supply, with ambulance services receiving 10 times as many calls as three years ago.
He said people need to be more aware of how to access treatment in the community, away from hospitals.
And he called for increased funding for people to get care in the community, including incentives for pharmacies to provide services, to ease pressure on hospitals and GPs.
“If the demand continues to outpace the supply up to this point, we have a problem,” he said.
Addressing the separate issue of elective care backlog had to be a “national mission,” he added, not only because it was affecting people’s health, but also because many people who are long-term ill cannot return to work until they receive treatment.
“It is an absolutely critical mission for the Government because it goes from health to society, to quality of life and, ultimately, to the economy,” he said.
In November, 37,837 patients waited more than 12 hours in the emergency room for a decision to be made to admit them to a hospital department, according to figures from England’s NHS.
This is an increase of almost 355 percent compared to the previous November, when an estimated 10,646 patients waited more than 12 hours.