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Senior health chief warns NHS may have to go on pandemic footing this winter to protect service

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‘We are in a crisis situation’: senior health chief warns the NHS may have to go on pandemic footing this winter to protect the service and says bosses need to have ‘honest talks’ with the public about its capacity

  • NHS may need severe restrictions this winter to meet demand, said one boss
  • Health services are expected to be overwhelmed by cost of living pressures
  • Matthew Taylor, of the NHS Confederation, says services should be fair to the public
  • “We have to delegate to local leaders to do what they have to do,” he said

The NHS may have to impose Covid-style restrictions this winter as hospitals brace for a surge in demand as the crisis begins to bite into the cost of living.

Matthew Taylor, director of the NHS Confederation, has said there should be an ‘honest conversation’ with the public about what the health service will be able to do over the winter and beyond.

He said there are measures taken by people during the pandemic to protect the NHS “which we need to rethink as we are in a crisis situation”.

Speaking to Times Radio, he said: “Now the two things that were critical of Covid were, first, we said in a way, ‘Don’t worry about the rules, the regulations and the goals, do what you need to do. did to solve the problem’.

“I think we need that same spirit right now – we need to delegate to local leaders to do what they need to do to address the really pressing issues, like ambulance waiting times, for example.

Official figures from the NHS revealed that in July 6.7 million people in England were waiting for routine hospital treatment – or one in eight of the population

“The second thing we did in Covid was that we, the public, made a really big contribution. We tested ourselves, we stayed at home, we wore masks, we did things to ease the pressure on health care.

“I think, again, in the position we are in now through the winter and beyond, we need an honest conversation with the public about what the health service will be able to do as long as we have this capacity (gap). ‘

Record blocking of beds hampers efforts to fight the emergency room crisis, NHS leaders warned last night.

NHS leaders warned on Saturday that record bed-locking numbers are hampering efforts to combat the emergency health crisis.

More than 13,500 hospital beds – one in seven – are currently occupied by patients who have been declared fit for discharge by doctors.

This figure is three times that of the pre-pandemic. As overnight stays in the NHS cost around £400, this could cost the health service £5.5m per day.

The response time of ambulances to emergency calls such as burns, epilepsy and stroke increased to almost an hour ¿ three times the target of 18 minutes

Ambulance response times to emergency calls such as burns, epilepsy and stroke have increased to nearly an hour – three times the target of 18 minutes

Bed blocking has a knock-on effect on ambulance delays as 999 crew members are forced to wait outside hospital buildings until patients have access to a vacant bed, contributing to delays in emergency response times.

Category two calls — including heart attacks and strokes — currently have an average response time of 59 minutes, while the target is only 18 minutes.

Every month, about 100,000 patients spend 12 hours in the hospital, waiting for a bed.

The £13bn a year increase in national insurance is intended to boost social care, but not until the backlog in the NHS’s waiting lists has been cleared – a process expected to take several years.

Elsewhere, ambulance numbers are reported to be falling despite rising demand, according to an analysis by the Daily Mail.

The workforce in England has steadily increased since April 2019, but has recently fallen for three months, figures from the NHS show.

From October last year to March this year, the number stayed above 18,000, while it now stands at 17,847 – the lowest since September last year.

A major paramedics’ union said its members dropped out of the profession en masse because of “incredible stress and even abuse” while trying to care for sick people.

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