NHS winter crisis
Alarming signs of an NHS winter crisis have emerged as official figures show a 42% increase in cancelled operations and a 23% rise in elderly people stuck in hospital, despite mild weather, little flu and lower than usual amount of patients arriving at Accident and Emergency units.
The NHS statistics show that over a 10 day period ending on Wednesday, more than 2,000 surgical procedures were cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice – including 122 urgent operations, such as those for patients with cancer.
Senior doctors have expressed their concerns over whether hospitals will be able to cope when the weather turns colder.
Dr Cliff Mann, President of the College of Emergency Medicine, said: “It is really worrying; this is a very significant rise so early in the season, when it is barely winter at all. It is especially concerning that so many urgent operations are being cancelled, because that clearly can put patients at risk.” He admitted that A&E units were now under severe pressure all year round, leaving little slack in the system for a harsh winter, an event that has been forecast.