Soaring numbers admitted to hospital as doctors fear worse winter yet
Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) have revealed that the number of patients admitted to hospital has risen by 12.7% between 2007/8 to 2012/13, amid increasing concerns from senior doctors that the NHS is facing its worst winter yet due to a combination of soaring demand, a shortage of doctors and “toxic overcrowding” on hospital wards.
Dr Bernadette Garrihy, from the College of Emergency Medicine, said government measures to ease the pressure on A&E amounted to “a drop in the ocean” and warned that doctors were concerned about their ability to provide a safe service this winter, due to the pressures of “severe weather problems” and “winter vomiting bugs” coming together to put “our departments under huge pressure”.
Dr Garrihy also said that increasing attendances at A&E during out of hours was due to many patients feeling that they were unable “to access any other sources of care”, saying that patients should only attend casualty departments “as a last resort”.
Meanwhile, hospitals were suffering from urgent staffing crises, she said, especially with shortages of senior doctors in A&E.
Official figures show a vacancy rate of 61 per cent among senior emergency doctors, up from 48 per cent in 2011