UK: NHS Hospitals Ordered To Cancel All Routine Operations In January

Originally published: 2018-01-06 14:57:22

Flu Spike and Bed Shortages Lead to A&E Crisis

POSTED BY Laura Donnelly, health editor AND Henry Bodkin , THE TELEGRAPH

EDITOR’S NOTE: As for what any national health care system will do, we have plenty of examples to choose throughout Europe. Even the national health care systems that are highly favored cannot compete with a private industry – all require the citizens to be taxed, even for services they most likely never use nor need. Creating a health care system ‘for the greater good of the people’ is still Medical Socialism no matter how you paint it. The 4 factors contributing to the NHS problems in the UK listed at the end of this post are still symptoms, not reasons — the real reason: ANY national health care system, unlike any privatized endeavor, has limits and those limits must be monitored and controlled by a panel. My sister in England has had to endure 20+ years of a bad hip as she was, as the panel judged, too young to have a hip replacement. My wife and I in Brasil visited 17 doctors until we found 2 that would work together on two ailments she had in which the medications canceled each other out – and all that had to come out of our own pockets as this dual condition was not recognized the the health care panel.  During those visits to the hospitals, the corridors were lined up with gurneys as there were very few rooms constructed for patients. Why? In the words of any doctor or nurse I asked as to why there are only a few rooms constructed in any hospital – this forces the patient to return home due to the commotion and high level of activity around them. In other words, it is about policy and not about the patient.

My wife was just 1 of a few that was able to secure a semi-private room after her operation, in large part due to a ‘donation’ to the hospital (they wanted to add our names to a plaque for the donation, we refused as it would only promote the pathetic conditions even further). Remove the government intervention and 3 of the 4 symptoms will disappear within a year, the 4th – staff shortages – will take another generation as the incentive to being in a health care position, from nurses to doctors, was dampened by the environment setup by the government in the industry in the first place, thereby reducing the number of students willing to invest their time, energy, and money into a profession that already has proven to shackle too many of their skills and abilities. Every and any action that needs to be taken to salvage a national health care system only adds more burden on the government operations as well as the people being taxed.

Every hospital in the country has been ordered to cancel all non-urgent surgery until at least February in an unprecedented step by NHS officials.

The instructions on Tuesday night – which will see result in around 50,000 operations being axed – followed claims by senior doctors that patients were being treated in “third world” conditions, as hospital chief executives warned of the worst winter crisis for three decades.

Hospitals are reporting growing chaos, with a spike in winter flu leaving frail patients facing 12-hour waits, and some units running out of corridor space.

Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director, on Tuesday ordered NHS trusts to stop taking all but the most urgent cases, closing outpatients clinics for weeks as well as canceling around 50,000 planned operations.

Trusts have also been told they can abandon efforts to house male and female patients in separate wards, in an effort to protect basic safety, as services become overwhelmed.

The chaos follows a rise in flu cases when many hospitals were already close to capacity, with high numbers of frail patients stuck on wards for want of social care.

By Tuesday night 12 NHS trusts – including two ambulance services covering almost nine million people – had declared they had reached the maximum state of emergency.

One ambulance trust resorted to taxis to ferry patients to hospital, while another asked patients to find a family member to get them to hospital, with paramedics stuck outside A&E units in record numbers.

Health officials said pressures on the NHS were expected to continue to rise, with flu levels surging.

Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director, said more action needed to be taken to tackle waiting lists CREDIT: CHRISTOPHER JONES

Sir Bruce said: “I want to thank NHS staff who have worked incredibly hard under sustained pressure to take care of patients over the Christmas. We expect these pressures to continue and there are early signs of increased flu prevalence.

“The NHS needs to take further action to increase capacity and minimise disruptive last-minute cancellations.”

Successive governments have banned mixed-sex wards, in a bid to protect patients’ dignity.

The decision to relax the rules was last night seen as a desperate measure, as pressures mount.

In Staffordshire,
one senior consultant said vulnerable patients
were now being treated in “third world conditions”
amid mass overcrowding.

Dr Richard Fawcett, a consultant in emergency medicine at Royal Stoke hospital, said it broke his heart to see elderly and frail people lining NHS corridors.

The Army doctor, who has [completed] 3 tours of Afghanistan commanding a field hospital, tweeted a personal apology to patients:

North East Ambulance Service is among trusts declaring the highest state of alert, warning that its “response standards to potentially life-threatening calls have deteriorated”.

The trust said it had received 19,000 calls to 999 in the week which just ended – one quarter more than the same time last year – while coping with 40% more 111 calls.

Some patients who would normally be sent an ambulance were now being asked if they could make their own way to hospital, with help from relatives, the trust said.

East of England Ambulance Service, also at maximum capacity, said some patients were being sent taxis to get them to hospital, with paramedics stuck in ambulances queuing at hospitals for more than 500 hours in the last 4 days.

‘Black alerts’

In addition, 10 hospital trusts said they were at the highest level of pressure – better known as a “black alert” – under a four-point scale of “Operational Pressures Escalation Levels” used to bring emergency plans into motion, when patient safety is at risk.

Among those admitting they had now reached this level of pressure were:

  • Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust
  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals
  • Portsmouth Hospitals NHS
  • Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells
  • Medway NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals Of Leicester
  • Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals
  • Taunton & Somerset Foundation Trust
  • Yeovil District Hospital Foundation Trust
  • Royal United Hospitals Bath

Many more trusts refused to provide information about pressure levels, with several saying NHS England no longer allowed them to divulge the information, which used to be published in previous winters.
Officials have also stopped weekly updates of data showing how A&E units are performing against the four-hour target.

However, an audit by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) suggests that ahead of Christmas, less than 81% of patients were being seen within 4 hours – against a target of 95%.
The figure is the worst recorded since the college began tracking A&E units 3 years ago.
The RCEM audit of more than 50 hospitals also revealed thousand of operations cancelled during Christmas week, with 70% more cancellations this year compared with last.
A number of NHS trust chief executives described the pressure as “relentless” with several on Tuesday saying they had never seen such pressure during 30 years in the health service.

Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said:

“The position at the moment is as bad as I’ve ever known. We are simply not coping, we were at full capacity before the sorts of pressures that we should be able to manage – like a rise in flu – is pushing us over the edge.

“Things are terrible now, but I am fearful the next few weeks will be horrendous.”

Why Is the NHS Under So Much Pressure?

  • An aging population. There are one million more people over the age of 65 than 5 years ago. This has caused a surge in demand for medical care
  • Cuts to budgets for social care. While the NHS budget has been protected, social services for home helps and other care have fallen by 11% in 5 years. This has caused record levels of “bedblocking”; people with no medical need to be in hospital are stuck there because they can’t be supported at home
  • Staff shortages. While hospital doctor and nurse numbers have risen over the last decade, they have not kept pace with the rise in demand. Meanwhile 2016 saw record numbers of GP practices close, displacing patients on to A&E departments as they seek medical advice
  • Lifestyle factors. Drinking too much alcohol, smoking, a poor diet with not enough fruit and vegetables and not doing enough exercise are all major reasons for becoming unwell and needing to rely on our health services. Growing numbers of overweight children show this problem is currently set to continue


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