Congestion in the NHS has reached a critical level, with nine in ten trusts deemed overcrowded.
Guidelines warn hospitals that over 85% bed occupation dramatically increases the risk of delays and infection. Despite this recommendation, 137 out of 152 NHS trusts have been overcrowded since the start of December resulting in chaos.
Patients have described queues throughout A&E departments, long waits on trolleys waiting for beds to come free, and operations being cancelled last minute.
Tragically, the pressure on these trusts resulted in the death of two patients whilst on emergency trolleys, one of which had reportedly been waiting for 35 hours.
Hospital bosses are claiming that this winter has been the ‘worst’ of their careers due to unprecedented numbers visiting A&E, and major problems discharging patients.
It is suggested that the most effective change would be to tackle the problem of delayed discharges caused by dwindling services from council care teams or district nurses.
As described by chief executive of the Red Cross, Mike Adamson: “Money is definitely an issue because of all those people who used to get social care support who no longer do.
‘There does need to be more funding for social care.
‘The NHS is doing a fantastic job but needs to be more open to working with voluntary sector partners who can make a real difference to improve the flow of patients through the system and address some of these issues.
‘Critically, [they can] improve the sense of wellbeing and reduce the sense of crisis with those individuals so they can live independently for longer.’
It has been calculated that if no other solution is found, the NHS will require 20 more hospitals in order to function at a safe level.
Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn attributes the critical condition of the NHS to the Government.
‘The fact is, this government have repeatedly failed to put the necessary resources into our health service, while they have cut social care and wasted billions on a top-down reorganisation to accelerate privatisation.
Regardless of who is to blame, it seems the NHS is crying out for urgent help.