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January saw the worst A&E performance in NHS history

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by Sarah J.
January saw the worst A&E performance in NHS history
Image: © chrisdorney

Emergency Departments only managed to treat 77% of patients within four hours, significantly short of the 95% target.

Offical figures from NHS England have revealed that Hospitals in England recorded the worst-ever performance against the national four-hour targets in January 2018. 'The worst outbreak of the flu ever' is being blamed for the unprecedented increase in demand for services.

Governmental targets stipulate that 95% of patients should be seen and treated or discharged within four-hours, however, accident and emergency departments in England only managed an average of 77.1%.

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Due to ongoing failings, the government announced last week that it has suspended the financial penalties associated with the four-hour target until April 2019 and in January ordered NHS trusts to suspend all non-urgent care.

January saw the worst A&E performance in NHS history

The figures from NHS England also revealed;

  • 31,306 patients waited at least an hour in the back of an ambulance or a hospital corridor before being handed over to A&E staff.
  • 81,003 patients waited for more than four hours to be seen, treated or discharged.
  • 1,043 patients waited more than 12 hours to be seen, treated or discharged.
  • Hospital occupancy levels are running at 95% - well above the 85% limit.

The Royal College of Nursing has called for proper investment in health and social care services to prevent this from happening again next winter.

Janet Davies, Royal College of Nursing Chief Executive and General Secretary, said:

"There’s no more graphic illustration of how tough this winter has been for NHS patients and staff than the fact that last month, over 81,000 people going to A&E had to wait more than four hours for a bed in the hospital – the worst figure on record.   Over a thousand of those had to wait a shocking 12 hours or more.  Distressing scenes of frail elderly people in corridors on trolleys have become an all too familiar sight this winter - nursing staff do not want to provide this kind of undignified care, and it is pushing people to quit the NHS.

“These pressures are a symptom of a far more long-term problem – we need proper investment in both the NHS and social care in order to treat patients quickly and safely all year round”.

Finally, the data from NHS England show that more than two million patients came to A&E during the month, a rise of more than 5% on last years figures.

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‘Red bags’ will get patients home from hospital quicker

Innovative ‘red bags’ will help community patients admitted to hospital be discharged quicker are being rolled out across the country.

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by Matt Bodell.
‘Red bags’ will get patients home from hospital quicker

The ‘Hospital Transfer Pathway’ or ‘Red Bag’ helps provide a prompt, safe and efficient transfer of care.

Innovative ‘red bags’ will help community patients admitted to hospital be discharged quicker are being rolled out across the country.

Red bags will contain contains a copy of their personal information, past medical history, a supply of medicines and a change of clothes for when they are ready to be discharged.

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The simple initiative started three years ago in Sutton, South West London, and now all areas of the country are being urged to adopt the scheme with a toolkit launched today to help.

As well as giving reassurance to patients, the red bags will provide hospital staff with quick, up-to-date information and medication requirements for the patient, avoiding unnecessary phone calls.

The personal touch makes a big difference.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England National Medical Director, said: “This is an example of where a joined up approach is helping to improve patient care and speed up a stay in hospital for all the right reasons. Sometimes it’s the personal touch that makes a big difference to patients, especially if they’re elderly, and the red bag helps people feel reassured and more at home. Doing more of the obvious is key to improving all our experiences of care.”

Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Care at the Department of Health and Social Care, said: “This scheme is an excellent example of the NHS and social care system working together to improve care and support for vulnerable older patients. Not only is this more efficient – saving valuable resources – but it’s a much better experience for patients leaving hospital when their treatment has finished.

“It’s encouraging to see this scheme being rolled out across the country as we move towards our ambition of joined up care that is centred around the individual.”

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Government review could lead to the legalisation of medical marijuana

Many argue that painkillers such as morphine are legal despite being an opiate like heroin, so medicalised cannabis should be treated no differently.

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by Chloe Dawson.
Nurses call for the decriminalisation of cannabis for medical use

The government announced it will review its ban on the medical use of marijuana.

Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, announced the review in the House of Commons yesterday, saying there is "a pressing need to allow those who might benefit from cannabis-based medicines to access them", adding “If the review identifies that there are significant medical benefits, then we do intend to reschedule”.

Over 40 countries, including Italy, Finland, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany and half of the United States, have decriminalised cannabis in some form and many studies have suggested that cannabis can be useful in the treatment of chronic pain and the management of conditions such as epilepsy.

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In the coming months, Chief Medical Officer, Sally Davies, will review the evidence for cannabis-based medicine and provide a set of recommendations for the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs Act.

It should be treated in the same way as Morphine.

Many argue that painkillers such as morphine are legal despite being an opiate like heroin, so medicalised cannabis should be treated no differently.

Currently, cannabis is a class-b drug subject to strict restrictions, it cannot be prescribed, administered or supplied to the public, and can only be used for research under a Home Office licence. One exception to this rule is Sativex, which has been available for use as a medicine without the need for a Home Office licence since 2013.

In May, Royal College of Nursing members voted overwhelmingly in favour of calling for the Government to decriminalise the use of cannabis for medical conditions.

Janet Davies, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, has previously said on the issue: “The sorts of conditions we heard about today, the terrible pain that people can be in, if people feel there’s something that will relieve that pain it’s worth a try.”

The government has said "absolutely no plans" to decriminalise the drug for recreational use.

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Unions call for pay deal to be extended to the private sector

Thousands of NHS workers, many of whom are the lowest paid, have been excluded from the deal because they are indirectly employed by the NHS.

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by Ian Snug.
Unions call for pay deal to be extended to the private sector

Healthcare unions have warned that a “dangerous imbalance” between sectors could cause harm to patients.

The Royal College of Nursing and Unite have called on the government to ensure the NHS pay deal is extended to those providing NHS services in social care, the private sector and primary care.

The NHS pay deal, formally accepted by healthcare unions earlier this month, will mean at least a 6.5% increase for the majority of NHS staff in England. Pay negotiations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are ongoing.

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However, thousands of NHS workers employed by social enterprises, general practice, social care, arms-length bodies, independent and charitable providers, have been excluded from the deal because they are indirectly employed by the NHS but still have a direct impact on patient care.

Made to feel like the poor relations.

Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, Unite National Officer, said: “Excluding indirectly employed NHS workers from the new pay deal is unjust. It will be a disaster for morale with thousands of low paid NHS workers being made to feel like the poor relations of NHS employees. 

"Regardless of whether an NHS worker is employed by a private company or the NHS, they are still health workers and their contribution to patient’s health must be recognised.”

In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "“I urge you to consider how to address the pay of all nurses and health care assistants providing NHS services, whoever their employer, so that a gap in pay does not result in workers being drawn away from primary, community and social care services.

”This would include those employed by social enterprises, general practice, social care, arms-length bodies, independent and charitable providers.

"I do believe that without this additional funding, we will see a dangerous imbalance of the workforce, which will significantly harm patients of non-NHS services.

"Many of our members delivering NHS services but not employed by NHS organisations complain that they endure poorer working conditions, loss of career and education opportunities,"

"We recommend the establishment of a new and separate national staff council, negotiating for all nurses and care assistants in health and social care who are not directly employed by an NHS organisation."

 

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