More NHS pressures ‘as the nights get darker’ – Javid

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The NHS is under “huge pressure” which could worsen as the nights get “darker and colder”, the Health Secretary has said.

Sajid Javid acknowledged that urgent and emergency care services were facing “huge demand”.

It comes amid rising concerns about the urgent and emergency care sector.

(PA Graphics)

Asked about the pressures, Mr Javid told the NHS Providers annual conference: “I want everyone that needs to be seen to be seen and to be seen as quickly, as soon as possible.

“I think we all understand why there is this huge demand for medical and health services and the pressures on social care, this has been a period that we’ve gone through as a country that is the most testing time for health and care in this country since the Second World War.

“We need people who stayed away to come back, we estimate that seven million people didn’t come for elective care in the normal way, we want the normal demand, for those people not to stay away.

“And obviously we need to meet the emergency care as well.

“There’s lots being done about that, there’s a plan we’ve put in place with the NHS, a 10-point plan for urgent and emergency care, which around more support for 999, more support for 111, more call handlers, it’s about making sure that where it’s appropriate that urgent care can be an alternative to A&E, it’s about hospital flow about the discharge funding and also the winter access programme for GPS for primary care.

“So there’s a lot being done but I’m not going to pretend for a second that it is something that is taking all these pressures away, the NHS is under huge pressure as we head into to winter with obviously the risk around flu.

“As nights get your darker and colder there will be more pressure and we have to wait and see how Covid behaves and it is unpredictable.

“But as a nation we are doing all we can, and the reason we are able to get through this in the way that we are is because of all of the fantastic people that are working in our NHS.”

On Tuesday Amanda Pritchard, the head of the NHS in England, said pressures on emergency care systems in hospitals are “even greater” than those caused by Covid.

Asked about ambulance pressures during Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson told the House of Commons: “I appreciate that ambulance crews and ambulance services are doing an amazing job, particularly at this time of year, and I thank them for what they are doing.

“We are supporting them with more cash, another £450 million was awarded to 120 trusts to upgrade their facilities and we’re putting another £36 billion into dealing with the backlog which is fundamentally affecting the NHS so badly at the moment through the levy that we’ve instituted.”

It comes as an ambulance trust has declared a critical incident due to a technical problem.

South East Coast Ambulance Service said on Wednesday morning it had suffered a “significant IT issue” overnight.

But in an update at 6pm it said: “We’ve been working hard throughout the day to resolve the situation.

“We’re pleased that we are now starting to bring our systems back online but there is a need for further periods of testing in the coming hours.”

It is the second time in a week that a technical problem has caused an issue with an ambulance service.

On November 10 the East of England Ambulance Service said that its computer aided dispatch and telephone systems experienced a “failure”.

While the systems were back up and running shortly after the problem, the service had to temporarily reroute 999 calls to neighbouring ambulance services.

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