I don’t mean to cheer you all up so soon into the new year with this story but it is very topical. At the heart of the issues (and this article intimates as much) is the dislocation between adult social care and acute care – meaning hospitals are often too clogged up to manage extra demand. 

This is further exacerbated by chronic under staffing and for rural hospital trusts, particularly those with multi-site operations, an unfair payment regime which fails to recognize the additional cost of delivering services in rural areas. You can read more about your individual acute trust’s record on delayed discharges at:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/delayed-transfers-of-care/delayed-transfers-of-care-data-2017-18/ 

Hospitals will be hit by “mayhem” this weekend because of the coming cold snap, a growing number of people with flu and the NHS’s staffing problems, a leading doctor has warned.

Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said hospitals will face “severe difficulties” this weekend as lower temperatures lead to a surge in patients needing care.

“Influenza is here and is already impacting the NHS and, with colder weather starting to set in, this will further stress already stretched services.

“I and many colleagues across the country are anticipating mayhem this weekend as temperatures drop, but it will come as no surprise to us,” Scriven said.

Some A&E units and intensive care units are already full, especially with people who have serious breathing problems, he disclosed.

“Within the last week I have had colleagues warning of emergency departments and intensive care units being full, and that will only worsen in the coming weeks,” added Scriven.

 “Skeleton staffing” of social care services over the festive period has meant patients who were medically fit to leave had not been able to get home from hospital, he added. “The capacity problems this will cause will be profound,” he added.

Hospitals’ ability to withstand a sudden increase in winter-related illness will also be compromised by the NHS being “horrendously understaffed”, Scriven said. Official figures show that the NHS in England has 103,000 vacancies, including for 42,000 nurses and 10,000 doctors.

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