NHS declares critical incidents as PM says pressure will last for weeks

The NHS is in a “state of crisis”, leaders have warned, as hospitals across the country have declared critical incidents and Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted the pressures will last “for weeks.”

Hospitals and ambulance services across the UK have hit their highest alert levels as they grapple with ‘unprecedented pressure’, with Covid leading to staff shortages along with increased admissions.

England and Scotland recorded a total of 157,758 new cases of Covid on Monday, while the number of patients in England’s hospitals with the disease reached 13,151 – up from 12,615 on New Years Day. No new data for Wales or Northern Ireland was available on Monday.

“In many areas of the health service we are in a state of crisis right now,” said Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents hospitals.

Six NHS trusts are said to have declared “critical incidents” – where bosses are concerned, they may not be able to provide priority services – as early as Monday evening.

Morecambe Bay Teaching Hospitals became the last to raise the alarm, with chief executive Aaron Cummins confirming in a statement that the trust had declared an “internal critical incident” and that some non-urgent operations and procedures would be put on hold.

In an internal message from Mr Cummins shared on Twitter, he told staff that “unfortunately, despite everyone’s best efforts, many of our patients are still receiving a lower level of care and experience than we would expect. “.

Lincolnshire Hospitals have also warned that “extreme and unprecedented staff shortages” are expected to result in “compromised care”, while the East Midlands Ambulance Service said it received 1,714 “record” calls via the 999 service during of the first seven hours of 2022.

He said the escalation “allows us to take additional steps to maintain safe services for our patients and help us cope with increasing pressures.”

Norfolk health officials have declared a major incident, after warning the public on Christmas Eve that their hospitals are facing “the greatest and most sustained pressures they have faced in recent years”. They asked people to come to A&E only when absolutely necessary.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted on Monday that no further Covid restrictions were needed in England, although he admitted that “the pressure on our NHS and on our hospitals is going to be considerable over the next two weeks , and maybe more “.

Defending his light-hearted approach – in stark contrast to the crackdowns across the rest of the UK – Mr Johnson said: ‘We have put in plan B, people should never forget it.’

He added: “The way forward for the country as a whole is to continue on the path we are on.

“We’ll keep everything under review – of course we’ll keep all the measurements under review – but the mix of things we’re doing right now is, I think, the right one.”

His comments came as NHS staff found themselves under pressure to cancel the holidays in order to keep services running.

Mr Taylor said: “Faced with high levels of demand and staff absences, some hospitals are having to declare a ‘critical incident’.

“Some hospitals are making urgent appeals to exhausted staff to forgo days off and time off so they can maintain basic services. Many other hospitals must ban visitors to try to reduce the spread of the infection. NHS England continues to plan for surge capacity.

“Social and community services, which were already massively overburdened, are at the breaking point. In many areas, ambulance services are unable to meet their target response times. Primary care must add caring for Covid-19 patients and trying to keep them out of hospitals, to driving the recall program and handling the unprecedented underlying demand, which is partly driven by the millions sick people awaiting appointments and operations. “

Lack of staff is putting pressure on most hospitals across the country. According to reports in Sunday Times, one in 10 employees was on sick leave on New Years Eve.

As previously stated by The independentNHS leaders have been urged to prepare for a peak in Covid hospital admissions in the second week of January. Hospital heads have warned it could come as staff shortages peak.

The news comes as access to Covid testing across the UK continues to be a problem. NHS England told staff on New Years Eve they were aware of the difficulties and should contact their employer if they were unable to access the tests.

Leave a Comment