NHS England Hiding Winter Numbers?
Thursday brought the accusation that NHS England was refusing to confirm the number of trusts that have been forced to issue alerts under the operational pressures escalation levels (Opel) framework system.
It has been suggested that NHS England is covering up the figures this year after the hospital chaos last winter that saw the Red Cross declare the situation a humanitarian crisis.
The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “It is entirely unacceptable that the true extent of the crisis may not be fully revealed because of a failure to publish details of which trusts have been forced to issue alerts. Ministers must be held accountable for their appalling failure to properly fund our NHS as it heads into another difficult winter.”
NHS England explained its decision to leave out the figures from its weekly report: “The NHS nationally has introduced a new system this year for identifying, and acting upon, heightened operational pressures over winter. This is centred around the new national emergency pressures panel, chaired by Sir Bruce Keogh, and its decisions about raising, or reducing, their assessments of pressure will be made transparently and published.”
The report on last week’s performance has revealed:
- 10,184 people waited at least half an hour in ambulances because A&E units were too busy
- A&E units at 5 different NHS trusts had to divert patients to other hospitals
- Each day, on average, 790 beds, both occupied and unoccupied, were unused due to an outbreak of norovirus.
- 94.5% of hospital beds were occupied surpassing the maximum target of 85%
“It is very early days but it is clearly a concern that bed occupancy – with an average rate of 94.5% – is already running so high as we head into what into what is usually the busiest time of year”, said Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers.