Where should you live to get the best health care? The demise of rural area DGHs, such as my own, where recruitment is a recurring problem, are compounded by the shortage of GPs. There is an irony, that as more and more beds are blocked, the hospital trusts demand more and more money, and expansion. Mr Stevens does not encourage this, and feels resources should be directed to the community and GPs. A letter in today’s Times lucidly exposed the dissonance. The result of too few doctors, and downsizing of all hospitals in West Wales, is that none of them are good enough. Once the penny drops, more private care, including A&E services, and more travelling are inevitable. Those that can may choose to leave… In the last week I have heard of children being sent on a round trip of 80 miles with a minor illness even thought he Out of Hours service was manned by a GP. Presumably one with stress overload.. I have accounts of patients with stroke not getting treatment because it was a Bank Holiday, and waiting lists are impossible, both for hospital and GP appointments. We may need beds, but not in hospitals..
Sir, Jeremy Hunt promises a new hospital every year (News, Mar 28). In his “Next Steps” plan Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, correctly recognises that the solution to challenges in A&E and hospitals is in the provision of joined-up health and social care based in our communities. The current provision of services is based on hospitals, with every issue prompting a “political” reaction to invest more in hospitals.
Dr Stephen Mann
Stourbridge, W Midlands
The NHS is more than 10,000 beds short of what it needs to look after older people properly, hospital leaders have said.
NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said that it was impossible for waiting time targets to be met this year and warned that the government’s pretence that they would be met created a “toxic culture” similar to that which led to the Mid Staffordshire scandal.
This week Theresa May promised that a long-term plan for NHS budget rises would be agreed within months, and will be under pressure to agree increases of up to £20 billion over five years.
The NHS has not hit any of its main targets for more than two years. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “The levels of performance expected and the savings demanded for next year are beyond reach. While we strongly welcome the prime minister’s commitment to increase long-term funding for the NHS, it makes no immediate difference to the tough task facing trusts for next year.”
Mr Hopson’s report estimates that 3.6 million patients will not be treated within four hours at A&E over the next year and 560,000 will be denied routine surgery within 18 weeks. He said that hospitals could make £3.3 billion in savings next year but that ministers had demanded 20 per cent more than this.
“This creates a toxic culture, based on pretence, where trusts are pressurised to sign up to targets they know they can’t deliver and then miss those targets as the year progresses,” his report said.
“The NHS is probably somewhere between 10,000 to 15,000 beds short on a bed base of about 100,000.”
One hospital chief executive suggested that hospital overcrowding pointed to deep social problems. He said: “As a country we don’t look after old people well. We have too many people living by themselves in houses that are unsuitable . . . In the end they get really unwell and call 999.”