Yes, I am wor­ried, ad­mits Hunt as the NHS braces it­self for win­ter...

Health supremo on a visit to the North East

Sunday Sun - - News -

HEALTH Sec­re­tary Jeremy Hunt has ad­mit­ted he fears the NHS may not be pre­pared to cope with win­ter pres­sures, dur­ing a visit to the North.

He s said he was “wor­ried” about how the ser­vice was pre­pared for the cold months while on a visit to Ty­ne­side.

And he con­fessed there is “a lot more” to do to en­sure we avoid a win­ter beds cri­sis crip­pling the ser­vice.

Mr Hunt spent two days visit­ing hos­pi­tals in the re­gion as part of a na­tional drive to im­prove pa­tient safety.

At New­cas­tle’s Royal Vic­to­ria In­fir­mary, he said: “I am wor­ried, I don’t think we have done as many prepa­ra­tions as we need to. There is still time but there is a lot more work to do to get us ready for win­ter.”

Last month NHS Eng­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Si­mon Stevens, told a con­fer­ence the ser­vice should brace it­self for a bad flu sea­son after Aus­tralia and New Zealand ex­pe­ri­enced their worst out­break in many years.

And Mr Hunt said: “Aus­tralia has had a very bad year for flu.

“We don’t know yet whether that’s go­ing to trans­fer here but we need to be pre­pared.”

On what mea­sures NHS trusts across the coun­try should be tak­ing, he said: “The most im­por­tant thing is to make sure all staff have their flu jabs.

“You can have flu with­out show­ing any symp­toms, so it’s easy for peo­ple to trans­mit it with­out re­al­is­ing.”

NHS man­agers have told the Gov­ern­ment they need at least £200m in emer­gency fund­ing to avoid a win­ter cri­sis.

The warn­ing came from a body called NHS Providers, which rep­re­sents hos­pi­tals, am­bu­lance ser­vices and men­tal health trusts.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive, Chris Hop­son, said: “NHS trusts are wor­ried that they do not have enough staff, beds and other ser­vices to man­age the risk to pa­tient safety this win­ter.”

Last year saw the North East’s NHS ex­pe­ri­ence its busiest fes­tive pe­riod on record.

In the three-weeks after De­cem­ber 16 there were over 43,000 at­ten­dances at the re­gion’s A&E departments, re­sult­ing in over 18,000 emer­gency ad­mis­sions.

In the two weeks from De­cem­ber 22, 999 calls for an emer­gency am­bu­lance rose from 1,039 a day, to 1,378 a day and peaked on New Year’s Day at 1,811.

The NHS in the re­gion saw peaks in de­mand fol­low­ing the Bank Hol­i­day pe­ri­ods with 4,813 ma­jor A&E at­ten­dances and 1,022 emer­gency ad­mis­sions on De­cem­ber 27 and 28.

This was fol­lowed by a fur­ther peak after New Year with 4,418 ma­jor A&E at­ten­dances on Jan­uary 3 and 4 and 1,024 emer­gency ad­mis­sions.

Dur­ing this busy pe­riod some of the big­gest re­ceiv­ing A&E departments in the re­gion called upon other trusts for help and sup­port, with sev­eral am­bu­lances di­verted to other hos­pi­tals in the re­gion at times of peak de­mand.

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