NHS to buy care home beds to make space in hospitals
On Monday, in new plans unveiled by Health Secretary Steve Barclay it was announced that the NHS will be given £250 million in funding to buy thousands of care home beds. It is hoped that this new intervention, which forms part of a new emergency package to alleviate Winter pressures, will free up over 2,500 beds and aid patient flow through A&E services. This additional funding is just one part of the emergency package. Other approaches to free up capacity include dedicated dementia hubs and alternatives for rehabilitative care which will be trialled across six areas in England.
Currently, it is projected that around 13,000 patients medically fit for discharge are occupying hospital beds in England. In the next few weeks many of these patients will be discharged back to the community to receive care as they recover.
Minister for Care Helen Whately discussed the importance of more timely hospital discharges. She said: "Getting people out of hospital on time is more important than ever. It's good for patients and it helps hospitals make space for those who need urgent care."
Read more at BBC News
Leaked data shows long cancer waits have reached record highs
New NHS England figures obtained by HSJ reveals the number of people in England waiting over three months for cancer diagnoses and treatment has, for the first time, exceeded 12,000. The NHS England figures for the week ending January 1st highlighted that over 4% of the 287,000 people on the Cancer Waiting Times Patient Tracking List were referred over 104 days before.
These figures are up from July which had 10,000 people waiting over 104 days from a total list of 313,000. When comparing these figures to those from this time last year there were 8,791 people out of 278,000 waiting over 3 months.
This data helps reinforce concerns over whether the government will be able to achieve its targets of reducing the total cancer wait time to pre-pandemic levels by the end of March 2023 - a target which had originally been deferred from March the previous year.
A spokesperson from NHS England discusses the approaches which are currently being taken to help reach this target. They said: "The record demand we have seen in response to efforts to recover from the impact of the pandemic has inevitably had an impact, yet over 810,000 have started treatment for cancer since March 2020 – 94 per cent within a month – and we are investing billions to expand diagnostic and treatment services to meet increased demand.”
Read more at The Evening Standard
New survey finds decline in support provided during childbirth
A new survey by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) investigating women's birthing experiences has found a critical decline in the levels of help provided during labour and following birth. In this survey over 20,000 women were asked to report their birthing experiences in February 2022, the results obtained were then compared to those from previous years.
Several key themes were identified in the data including:
57% reported that they could always get a member of staff helping after childbirth (down from 62% in 2019).
63% said they could get help when needed during labour and birth (down from 72% in 2019).
23% of people reported their concerns, regarding labour or birth, were not taken seriously (figures which were up from 19% in 2017)
Discussing the significance of these results, Angela McConville CEO of the National Childbirth Trust said: "Maternity services in England are categorically falling short of women's expectations. This is not all the impact of the Covid pandemic, but is directly associated with long-term underinvestment in the staffing of maternity services."
Read more at BBC News
UK doctors argue for simplified visa rules to address GP shortages
To help address a shortage of GPs across the UK and tackle the growing backlogs currently facing healthcare services medical leaders have argued for the UK government to urgently streamline post-Brexit visa bureaucracy. An intervention which will help support overseas GPs looking to work in the UK.
After Brexit halted the free movement of labour within the EU the UK has increasingly relied on higher numbers of non-EU foreign doctors. Consequently, according to data obtained from the British Medical Association (BMA), just under half (48%) of all current trainee GPs require visas. Existing restrictions mean that individual GP practices are then required to pay £1,500 to become a licensed sponsor of skilled migrant workers requiring visas. A process which doctors' groups have labelled a highly bureaucratic burden rather than a financial one.
Dr Kieran Sharrock from the BMA's England GP committee discussed the problems with current visa rules. He said:“With around half of trainee GPs in England subject to these visa restrictions, it’s potentially a huge waste — of skills, time and money — if these doctors are then forced to leave general practice or the NHS because of a problem that is so easily solvable.”
Read more at The Financial Times
Quote of the Week
Despite recent analyses highlighting that the NHS has disproportionately fewer managers compared to the rest of the UK workforce (2% vs 9.5%) the view that the NHS is over managed persists. In an email published on Twitter Philip Davies, MP for Shipley in Yorkshire, discusses the "appalling" over management of the NHS.
He said: “I m afraid that until people accept that the NHS is inadequate, badly run and in dire need of reform things will never improve…It is time people looked to the vast number of senior managers and told them to up their game rather than giving them a free pass and just blaming the government.”
Read more at HSJ