NHS winter pressures Opinion and commentary on the pressures facing England's health and social care services over winter.
Many health conditions, including respiratory system diseases such as asthma, can be caused or worsened by cold weather. Together with higher incidences of so-called ‘seasonal illnesses’ including flu and norovirus, this means the NHS often faces much greater pressure in winter, both in the community (including GPs and pharmacy services), and in secondary care in hospitals.
As the media warn of an impending ‘NHS winter crisis’, we take a closer look at the data, including NHS England's monthly performance statistics and daily sitreps, to examine the latest trends.
How is the NHS coping this winter?
Our analysts examine the performance of the NHS in England this winter, drawing on the latest data as well as front-line experience. Services may not be in crisis at the moment, but winter is far from over and the January statistics paint a worrying picture of targets being consistently missed.
In the first blog of winter 2018/19, Cat Turton looks at three key performance indicators (A&E waits, elective waits and bed occupancy) to explore the change in demand for patient care in hospitals across England over the past few winters. In the second, Becks Fisher draws on her first-hand experience working in an extremely busy GP surgery, blogging about the struggles her patients and colleagues currently face. Finally, in March our quality team will look back at this winter as it draws to a close, reflecting on how performance has varied across different areas of England.
How does winter affect patient journeys?
In the winter of 2017/18, we published a series of blogs and charts examining the winter pressures faced by the NHS in England. We followed the patient journey through the health service. Topics included the situation in A&E departments, challenges with hospital admissions and high bed occupancy rates, and what delayed transfers of care mean for people leaving hospital and returning home.