Medical staff wearing protective clothing take a patient off a ambulance at St Thomas' hospital as the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continues, London, Britain, March 31, 2020 (Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay).

Lack of staffing and increased demand from patients is mounting unsustainable pressure on the NHS, putting patient safety and care at risk, a new poll of NHS leaders by the NHS Confederation revealed.

NHS leaders in England warned that the service has reached a “tipping point” with nearly 88 per cent saying “the demands on their organization are unsustainable.”

The survey, published ahead of the monthly performance figures for the NHS England, covered leaders across hospitals, ambulance services, mental health providers, community services, primary care and integrated care systems.

It highlighted primary care, urgent and emergency care as greatest areas of concern, with record levels of demand on A&E departments and increasing bed occupancy rates.

To help tackle the situation, the NHS leaders suggested that government should provide extra support for social care and ensure effective discharge arrangements.

This comes amid reports that one in five beds in some hospitals are occupied by medically fit patients, but for whom there is no care package available to leave hospital.

Despite the severe pressures, local services have managed to treat significant numbers of patients, with 1.1 million procedures carried out in August alongside 25.5 million appointments in primary care.

Commenting on the findings, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said: “The health and social care secretary says the NHS is not under unsustainable pressure, but NHS leaders are clear that we have reached a tipping point.

Javid has come under fire for claiming at a recent press conference, that he did not believe the pressure on the NHS was unsustainable.

Taylor added that the situation is expected to worsen further during the winter unless an action is taken now.

He suggested that government should provide extra funding to social care services to help fill staffing vacancies and persuade them back into the sector.

He said: “It would be better to allocate more immediate funding, from the recent funding settlement, to social care services, as boosting the numbers of care staff will have much greater impact on reducing pressures on hospitals and other parts of the NHS.”

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