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Over 90% of health leaders ‘concerned’ about ability to handle winter crisis

By Neil Trainis

PUBLISHED: October 12, 2017 | UPDATED: October 12, 2017

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More than 90% of health and care leaders in England are “concerned” their organisation will not be able to cope with a looming winter crisis, according to a poll by the NHS Confederation.

The poll also found 62% of leaders were “extremely concerned” by their ability to handle what is set to be the toughest winter the NHS has ever experienced, with many A&E departments on the verge of collapse with rising numbers of patients waiting over 12 hours for treatment.

“The health and care system in England is in a fragile state and it is fair to say many organisations will struggle to meet expectations over the next few months,” said Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation which has nearly 500 members across health and social care including hospitals, community and mental health providers, ambulance trusts and independent sector organisations.

“Last year it was said that the service was ‘just about coping,’ but for many of our members this year looks more challenging. Not only is there the prospect of ongoing pressure, high bed occupancy, and DTOC blockages in flow, but the worry too of a serious flu attack combined with bad weather.

“NHS improvement data shows A&E attendances and admissions are continuing to rise – with a 25.9% jump in responses to time-critical and life-threatening ambulance calls.

“Hospitals and Emergency Departments are simply not able to recruit the staff they need. In some respects, of course the annual winter crisis is now an all-year round crisis with some additional and serious pressures over the next period.”