Health leaders have reported that hospitals are under mounting pressure as the winter weather hits the UK.
Research reveals that the demands on the NHS tend to increase during these colder months as a result of illnesses such as flu and Norovirus. As winter swept into the UK last week, pressures seem to be reaching record levels.
Despite further money being invested, the four hour A&E waiting time target is still being missed. This warning comes as the BBC launches the NHS Winter Project which aims to track how the health service is performing at individual hospital trust level.
"Pressure on NHS services is at a critical point and cracks are beginning to appear,” says British Medical Association leader Dr Mark Porter. He maintains that: “While the NHS is used to seeing a spike in demand during winter months, this year emergency departments have experienced a spring, summer and autumn crisis as well, leaving no spare capacity in hospitals as we approach winter.”
It has also been reported that “GP surgeries are struggling to cope with unprecedented levels of demand."
This comes after news and statistics revealing that hospitals in Merseyside are battling to see all patients within four hours of their arrival in A&E. The government target for hospitals is to see at least 95% of emergency patients and to make a decision to admit them, transfer them to another hospital or discharge them within four hours. Despite this, recent NHS figures show that nearly all Merseyside hospitals fail to do this week after week. It is understood that A&E admissions in October in Merseyside were at their highest since April 2012.
Natalie Churney, associate in the Penningtons Manches London clinical negligence team, says: “It is of great concern that hospitals are struggling to maintain an effective process of dealing with increased demands and that people at some hospitals have been told not to come to A&E unless they had a genuine emergency. We can only hope that people with serious complaints receive the treatment they need.”