Experts are warning that the NHS is facing its worst winter in history if it does not receive an immediate funding boost.
NHS Providers, the association that represents healthcare trusts in England, has called for emergency funding of between £200m and £350m to enable the NHS to ensure patient safety in the coming winter months.
Experts say that failure to provide extra funding will lead to longer waiting times for patients in A&E as well as other services. They go on to warn that patient safety could be put at risk.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said:
“Last winter the health service came under pressure as never before.
“At its height, the NHS had to provide 4,500 additional beds a day – equivalent to more than eight extra hospitals.
“Patient safety was compromised as local services struggled to cope with the pressures. “At times, in some places, the NHS was overwhelmed.
“We must act now to prevent the situation becoming even worse this winter.
“Trusts are doing all they can to prepare for this winter in the face of increasing demand for their services and competing priorities.
“And they are benefiting from much better national level planning from NHS England and NHS Improvement which is helping to identify and support those local areas that are most at risk.
“But despite this, the overwhelming view of NHS trusts is that without immediate extra funding they will not have sufficient capacity to manage this winter safely.
“This risk has been heightened because, in many areas, the £1bn of extra support for social care announced in the Budget will not ease winter pressures on the NHS, as the Government had planned.
“Patients will therefore be put at greater risk as local trusts won’t have the extra beds, staff and services they need to meet the extra demand they will face.
“The only way to mitigate these risks is through an urgent NHS cash injection to ensure the NHS has the necessary capacity this winter.”
NHS Providers explains that NHS Trusts are at greater financial pressure than ever before and therefore extra funding is ultimately needed to ensure patient safety.