Nursing crisis could affect patient care
As of October 2018, there were around 41,000 nurse vacancies in NHS England.
This is predicted to reach 70,000 by 2024 at the current rate, according to a major joint report in March by the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation.
Experts say low pay and long hours are two of the main factors which make finding nursing staff difficult. This, paired with student debt, makes the profession unappealing for young people.
A Royal College of Nursing poll, of 1,692 Britons, found 71 per cent think there are not enough nurses to provide safe care to patients.
Of 1,408 people polled in England, 37 per cent said their top priority for any extra NHS funding was the recruitment of more nurses.
Ageing population means more care needed
Longer lives are costing the cash-strapped NHS more money each year.
One in six of the UK population is aged 65 and over, and by 2050 it will be one in four, according to NHS England.
This group of people are at the highest risk of adverse outcomes such as falls, disability, admission to hospital, or the need for long-term care.
The King’s Fund reports that over 15million people in the UK have a chronic condition, many of whom will be elderly.
The number of patients aged 75 or over needing an NHS operation in England has doubled since 1999, a study by Queen Mary University found.
Some 1,012,000 people had surgery in 2015, a sharp rise from the 545,000 recorded before the turn of the millennium.
Bed shortages causing procedure cancellations
A record 4.4million people are waiting to go into hospital in England for a planned procedure, according to NHS England.
In comparison, a year ago there were 4.09million people on the list, and two years earlier it was 3.81million.
A&E departments are also feeling the strain as backed-up hospital beds make it harder for them to find places to put new patients, so leave them waiting on temporary beds known as ‘trolleys’.
NHS England revealed in July that the number of A&E patients stuck on trolleys waiting for an inpatient bed has increased by 70 per cent in a year.
The figure is almost treble that from four years ago.
GP surgeries closing due to doctors leaving NHS
Over the last six years, 585 practices have closed, covering a population of nearly 1.9million, according to data obtained by Pulse magazine
Experts believe the rate of surgery closures is accelerating because rising numbers of under-pressure doctors are opting for early retirement – or deciding to abandon their careers.
Despite the Government’s pledge to hire 5,000 extra GPs between by 2020, the NHS has lost almost 600 GPs in the last year.
Almost as many family doctors left the health service between June 2018 and June 2019 as did in the entire three years to March, according to NHS figures.
On top of this, a poll in February found 42 per cent of NHS GPs said they intended to leave or retire within five years, up from less than a third (32 per cent) in 2014.
The research by the University of Warwick found almost a fifth (18 per cent) said they would leave within two years.
Data from winter 2018/2019 reveals the NHS once again under intense pressure over the winter months.
A&E attendances and emergency admissions rise, there is dangerously high bed occupancy, and staff working over time – causing loss of morale.
Total attendances at A&E rose to 6.2million last winter – a six per cent increase from the year before. Just over 85 per cent of patients were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours – the second worst performance on record.
The average bed occupancy rate last winter remained very high, at 93.5 per cent, comparable to the previous year’s figure of 94.4 per cent.
NHS bosses have been urged to step up anti-flu preparations earlier this year after a stark rise in the number of virus cases during winter in Australia.
Top British doctors said the increase in Australia could be a sign of what is to come in the UK this winter.
Despite the looming winter months, figures suggest the NHS is now in a year-long crisis.