Commenting on the latest NHS winter performance data, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said:
“These figures show a service under huge pressure with little or no spare capacity as the NHS approaches its busiest time of the year. The concern is that that if there is a serious flu outbreak or cold snap the system would really struggle to deal with a spike in demand.
“Last week, 11 A&Es needed to divert ambulances to another hospital because they had reached capacity. More than ten thousand patients each day waited at least a half hour in an ambulance before being admitted to the emergency department. In recent weeks, half of NHS trusts operated at over 95 per cent bed occupancy, with one in seven trusts at 99 per cent capacity, far short of the number of available beds required for hospitals to safely accommodate patients.
“The extra cash promised in the budget for the NHS this winter may alleviate some short term pressure but will not address the long term needs of the NHS and it’s a sticking plaster solution. NHS staff in our GP surgeries and hospitals are working flat out to treat patients quickly and efficiently, but they are under unsustainable pressure. Addressing these pressures requires immediate additional capacity in the system but also a long term plan from government to ensure the NHS is properly funded to deal with rising demand.”
Notes to Editors
The British Medical Association (BMA) is the voice of doctors and medical students in the UK. It is an apolitical, professional organisation and independent trade union, representing doctors and medical students from all branches of medicine across the UK and supporting them to deliver the highest standards of care.
- The bed occupancy rate is calculated by comparing the number of general and acute beds available and the number of general and acute beds occupied.