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NHS begs for emergency funding as it faces worst winter in history

Ian Snug

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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.

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£13 million funding to help hospital A&Es prepare for winter

Sarah J

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The Department of Health has announced 19 hospitals in England will benefit from extra funding for emergency care over winter.

Following a plea for funding from NHS Providers, the association that represents healthcare trusts, the Department of Health (DoH) has announced it will provide additional funding to nineteen NHS hospitals in England.

The 19 hospitals across England will be given a cash injection of over £13 million for emergency care, in the latest wave of winter funding announced today by Health Minister Philip Dunne.

Around £13 million has been awarded to improve patient flow through A&E, ensuring departments are prepared for busy times during winter. The additional funding brings the total given to hospitals since April to over £90 million, part of the dedicated funding announced in the Spring Budget.

Minister of State for Health Philip Dunne said:

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of staff, the NHS has put in place strong plans ahead of winter – ensuring patients continue to receive safe and efficient care as demand rises over the coming months.

This funding will give more hospitals the boost they need to streamline patient flow in A&E, freeing up A&Es to care for the sickest patients and helping make sure all patients get the right treatment in the right place as quickly as possible”.

The funding will be used to help hospitals finalise preparations ahead of winter, particularly to handle the large volumes of patients attending A&E. By investing in the necessary equipment or infrastructure, hospitals will be able to target improvements to patient flow and relieve pressure on A&E.

The funding supports NHS England’s wider plans to improve A&E performance in England by 2018. In particular, it will help hospitals hit the target of admitting, transferring or discharging 95% of patients within 4 hours.

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New guidance for ‘acid attack’ victims following recent rise in attacks

Nursing Notes

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The NHS and leading burns surgeons are today issuing new first aid guidance to help ensure victims of acid attacks get the right help fast.

The assistance for victims comes as new data from NHS England show the number of people requiring specialist medical help for this type of assault is on the rise. In 2014, 16 people required specialist medical advice, rising to 25 in 2015 and increasing further to 32 last year. The level of demand for specialist burns help so far in 2017 suggests there will be another rise in patient numbers this year.

So-called ‘acid attacks’, where corrosive substances are used as part of a violent assault or robbery, have become increasingly prominent, with a series of high-profile incidents this year. As well as the significant harm caused to individuals, the NHS estimates that the average cost of care for a victim requiring specialist burns treatment, eye care, rehabilitation and mental health treatment is £34,500.

NHS England, in partnership with the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) is today publishing new advice for anyone falling victim to acid attacks, including new online guidance and support to victims as well as friends or family of people affected by burns. The guidance – Report, Remove, Rinse – has been developed with specialist BAPRAS burns and trauma surgeons, who have treated victims of these attacks.

Whilst the overall number of people impacted by this type of attack remains low, people are advised to take three simple steps in the event they witness or are victim of an attack:

  • Report the attack: dial 999.
  • Remove contaminated clothing carefully.
  • Rinse skin immediately in running water.

A burns unit serving patients from London and the South East, has seen a substantial increase in the number of people it has helped this year who have been affected by this type of assault. In 2016 the St Andrew’s Burns Centre saw 20 people who required admission because of the most serious effects of acid or corrosive burns, a similar number who were treated there over the previous 15 years. The Centre is on course to deliver help to over 30 people in 2017.

People assaulted with corrosive substances like acid are likely to need a range of different care after the emergency response. This could include therapy, specialist burns treatment, and in some instances eye or plastic and reconstructive surgery. This new guidance for victims published today is designed to help people to understand easily what help is available from the NHS. The guidance also offers help to victims’ relatives, who can help people cope with the trauma which can follow an attack.

Professor Chris Moran, National Clinical Director for Trauma at NHS England, said:

“Whilst this type of criminal assault remains rare, the NHS is caring for an increasing number of people who have fallen victim to these cowardly attacks.

“One moment of thoughtless violence can result in serious physical pain and mental trauma, which can involve months if not years of costly and specialist NHS treatment.

“So-called acid attacks are medical emergencies and people should immediately dial 999. We are issuing guidance today that sets out clearly and simply how people can help themselves and others in response to attacks. Our guidance will outline what first steps to take in the event of an attack in those crucial minutes before professional clinical help arrives on the scene.”

Whilst making this advice available to the public, NHS England have also partnered with a number of organisations, including police forces, ambulance services and the Royal College of Surgeons to ensure this advice is shared with front-line public service people who are often first on the scene.

Guidance is also available on the NHS Choices website.

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