Winter is coming: Battle lines are drawn in the NHS

Staff in the A&E department of Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital [Image: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images].

Does anybody seriously believe the National Health Service is ready for the winter onslaught on its services, while it continues to be run by Conservatives?

If so, think again. Already the news hacks are laying out the territory on which the service’s next battle for credibility will be fought.


The NHS is deep into planning for what many worry will be an even tougher winter than last year.

Improvements are being outweighed by a combination of increasing risks and NHS trusts are worried that they do not have enough staff, beds and other services to manage the risk to patient safety this winter.

They point to several factors: the relentless rises we are seeing in demand on A&E and other key services; growing staff shortages; and greater financial pressure, which means trusts are less able to afford the extra capacity they urgently need. The relentless rise in demand has also meant that some “escalation” beds – put in place as a winter contingency – are still in use even during the summer. Despite all the effort at local and national level, performance against the four-hour A&E standard is no better at this point than it was last year. The reality at the frontline is that winter never really went away.

But, perhaps most important of all, the government’s plan that the NHS would consistently benefit from the £1bn of extra support for social care – trying to get a double benefit from the same pot of money – has not worked.

Source: The NHS needs more money now or the country will face another winter of discontent | Chris Hopson | Opinion | The Guardian


Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “Last winter the health service came under pressure as never before. This winter could be worse.”

Mr Hopson said feedback from his members showed that delays in discharging patients, and workforce shortages, were hampering their efforts.

He pointed out that the NHS budget had increased by only 1.3% this year compared to a 5% rise in demand.

He said the Office of Budget Responsibility had estimated that the NHS would still have a £15bn funding shortfall by 2020.

Mr Hopson said: “There’s a bit of a myth running around that somehow if the NHS could be that bit more efficient or a lot more productive we wouldn’t need to put this extra money in.

“Of course we should find more productivity and efficiency, but it’s not going to close anything like that size of gap.”

The call for more money comes ahead of a meeting of NHS leaders and Prime Minister Theresa May, which is expected to take place next week.

Source: The worst is yet to come for the NHS – hospital chiefs | BBC News

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  1. Ann Ford September 3, 2017 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    Our NHS is never safe in tory hands. They hate the NHS and seem to believe its worth destroying when in truth it is a national asset to be treasured.

  2. Florence September 4, 2017 at 10:55 am - Reply

    The truth also includes the fact that the finding per capita of population has fallen under “austerity”. Tory lies about “higher spending” hide this chronic underfunding, and that more money to the NHS is simply funneled out again in profits to those private contracts resulting in less spent on real patient care.

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