NHS 'facing winter crisis'

Doctors are warning that the NHS could face a crisis over winter, with accident and emergency departments already finding it hard to deal with the volume of patients they see.

Dr Cliff Mann, College of Emergency Medicine President, said it appears that this winter will be even worse than winter last year, which was already the worst the UK has seen.

Colleagues are already reporting that patients are forced to wait on trolleys for extended periods of time, while difficulties moving patients to other hospitals or into the community are causing ‘bed blocking’ to be a major issue, he added.

“It’s not chaos in emergency departments, but it is a crisis,” Dr Mann said.

NHS data shows that in the last two years, the number of people who have had to wait in accident and emergency departments for more than four hours has risen by 43%, while the number of ‘trolley waits’ of between four and 12 hours has jumped by 89%.

This winter looks as if it will be a “tipping point” in the way the NHS handles acute care cases, Dr Mann warned.

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