A bad flu season would break NHS far worse than last year, doctors warn
Posted on 25/10/2017 by
HOSPITAL staff fear NHS bosses will be left ‘crossing their fingers’ to tackle a winter crisis.
One doctor predicts overburdened hospitals will 'break far worse' than last year if a flu virus strikes.
The comments come as an NHS Confederation poll found nine in 10 health and care leaders across England are ‘concerned’ about their organisation’s ability to cope this winter.
NHS England boss Simon Stevens last month warned hospitals to be prepared for a ‘pressurised’ flu season following a heavy outbreak in the Southern Hemisphere during winter there.
Dr Nick Scriven, of the Society for Acute Medicine, said it could mean non-emergency procedures are axed for months. He said ‘a bad flu season will overwhelm us’ adding the NHS will ‘break far worse than last year’.
He said: “For all the talk of preparations, on the ground it feels as though nothing’s new this year other than crossed fingers – which is fair comment as the government has failed to tackle effectively the issues behind the pressure we face.
“If, as we expect, we see a flu outbreak, I think the NHS – in terms of both beds and clinical staff – will break far worse than last year and elective activity will almost certainly cease for several months.”
Niall Dickson, of the NHS Confederation, said: “The health and care system is in a fragile state. Many organisations will struggle to meet expectations over the next few months.”
Both Poole Hospital and Royal Bournemouth Hospital said they are taking measures to prepare for a challenging winter.
A spokesman for Poole said: “We have worked closely with our NHS and other partners to practice and refine our response to the extra challenges that winter brings.
“This includes opening an integrated discharge services bureau, where our partners in local health and social care all work together to ensure patients spend no longer than medically required in hospital. At all times safe, effective and compassionate care for all patients remains the focus of our plans.”
A spokesman for Royal Bournemouth Hospital added: “As we do every year, our Trust prepares for winter months in advance. These plans include opening a Winter Care Ward, preparing for winter flu and working with partners to reduce delayed transfers of care. We shall also be working closely with our local partners to ensure that anyone requiring healthcare over winter goes to the right place for their needs. If appropriate, we would recommend if anyone is unsure as to where they should go, they call the NHS 111 service as their advisers can direct to the best medical care, which could be the local pharmacy, GP or Minor Injuries Unit (MIU).”