“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.
However, Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said that “a nod and wink from the prime minister” was not enough for patients.
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.”“
Source: The Times, pay wall