Accident and Emergency units ‘on the edge’
NHS bosses are warning that hospitals are being pushed to the limits after a ‘sharp rise’ in demand for A&E units is causing real problems.
Research from the BBC showed that some NHS trusts have even had to take extreme measures to cope with the ‘exceptional’ pressures.
All routine operations were cancelled at one hospital, while another was considering resorting to setting up a temporary treatment area in a tent.
Forty-five temporary closures of A&E units have occurred over the past fortnight, up 50 per cent on the same period last year.
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner revealed that the closure of Huddersfield’s A&E could lead to an extra 157 deaths a year.
The letter signed by both MPs says: “According to one analysis we have seen, the decision to close our A&E would make Huddersfield the largest town or city not to have a major A&E within five miles.
“The situation will be made even worse if Dewsbury loses its A&E, which is another likely possibility.”
The official Commons letter says: “It is a scandal that Huddersfield looks set to lose its A&E service because of this terrible deal, especially since our own hospital, Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI), did not accrue this burden of debt.
“It is wrong to ask the people of Huddersfield to bail out a debt that historically has nothing to do with the town.
“Everyone understands that financial considerations are very important, but ultimately healthcare outcomes and patient safety have to come first.”
The number of patients visiting A&Es in England spiked by 20,000 last week to nearly 340,000, which is much higher than the average for winter.
Hospital bosses are also reporting problems discharging patients.
NHS England’s Richard Barker told the BBC that the recent bad weather was likely to have contributed to the ‘sharp rise’ in A&E visits.
“The pressures remain very real. We don’t expect those to abate in the run-up to spring,” he added.