NHS Crisis: 40% of Hospitals Issue Black Alert; Failed A&E Targets

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Pressures on the NHS are always high over the winter period but this year there have been increasing reports of serious levels of overcrowding that have been called dangerous and unsafe by those on the frontline.

It has been reported that over 40% of hospitals have declared an alert in the first week of January because of major problems due to too many patients and not enough beds. Official figures reported in The Guardian today show that 95% of hospital beds were full from 2nd-8th January, which was up from 91% the week previously.

In the same week, nearly 40% of England’s acute hospital trusts had to go on what NHS England call ‘Opel 3 alert’, with some trusts on ‘Opel 4’, the highest alert. The alerts signify the Operating Pressures Escalation Levels framework, which are the steps taken by trusts to handle large numbers of patients. More than 20 hospitals are on the highest level alert, also called a black alert, meaning they are at risk of being unable to deliver comprehensible care and patient safety is compromised due to high patient numbers.

Many accident and emergency departments across the country have also been so busy that patients are being diverted to other emergency departments. In Emergency departments have also been failing to hit their four-hour waiting targets for 16 months in a row. The latest figures from NHS England reveal that hospitals have not met the 95% target of patients to be seen within four hours since July 2015.

The British Red Cross recently described the current state of the NHS as a ‘humanitarian crisis’, something that has been shot down by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, as an “irresponsible and overblown” statement. Pressure is mounting on Theresa May, as well as the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to step up and take action to provide the necessary resources to an already underfunded NHS.

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