Winter is almost upon us and the NHS is already experiencing mounting pressure as data from September is published by NHS England.
Key Performance Targets which were missed include:
- Four hour A & E target to see, treat or discharge patients
- Missing 2 out of 8 key cancer targets
- Missing the six week target time for diagnostic tests
- Failing to meet the target of answering 75% of the most serious 999 calls within 8 minutes
However, the difficulties and stresses and strains in the system do not stop there. Pressures on acute emergency care are often compounded by the problem of patients who are ready for discharge but who cannot be sent home because of a lack of community support provided by social services. As they then block beds, there is a knock on effect for other services provided by hospitals.
All of this is against a background of increasing patient numbers and static funding which is leading to a real terms reduction in money available to frontline services.
Targets were missed months before the busy Winter period when hospital admission always rise and before the ballot to junior doctors which is widely expected to support industrial action and is likely to delay routine clinics and operations, also further adding to the problems of the NHS.
Junior Doctors are genuinely concerned that if their new contract is implemented, it will have a negative effect on patient safety but in trying to highlight this issue they are being criticised by the Government for deserting patients at a time of increasing need in December. The results of their strike ballot are due to be announced this week.
If you or a family member has been affected by an issue relating to patient safety contact a member of our Clinical Negligence Team for advice on 0800 316 8892.