Routine hospital appointments to be deferred to ease winter pressures

Routine hospital appointments to be deferred to ease winter pressures

In a letter to the secretary of state for health and social care, Jeremy Hunt, its chief executive, Chris Hopson, writes: "Despite preparing for this winter better than ever before, national and local preparations have been insufficient to meet the levels of patient demand that trusts are now experiencing".

"It's very important that patients with planned operations, procedures or outpatient appointments should attend as normal unless they are specifically contacted by their hospital and asked not to".

Officials have estimated that this could lead to up to 55,000 deferred operations, although cancer operations and time-critical procedures should go ahead as planned, NHS England said.

Local MPs Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart have said they are "committed to making sure our hospital has the resources it needs" following the declaration by Milton Keynes Hospital that they are under "extreme pressure".

Echoing Theresa May, he added: "It is incredibly tough, I completely agree with what the Prime Minister has said about how brilliant the NHS staff have been". "After five years in the job, he should be taking responsibility, not fleeing the scene".

NHS England's Prof Keith Willett admitted the pressures were severe - the worst he had seen since the 1990s - but said plans were in place.

Some ambulance services have also started asking 999 callers with less serious problems to make their own way to hospital, patients are being put on mixed sex wards and hospital's are bringing Global Positioning System into A&E to help deal with patients.

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She added: "Patient safety is being compromised - there's no doubt about that".

The hospital has also people should dial NHS 111 for advice if they are unsure treatment is needed. On New Year's Eve patients were urged to only call 999 if their situation was "life-threatening" or extremely serious in a desperate bid to ease strain on overloaded paramedic crews.

A year ago 101 health officials were paid more than Theresa May, who has a salary of just over £150,000.

While the NHS faces increased pressure in the New Year, the service seems to be under even more strain now compared to previous years.

A Trust spokesman said it has seen a rise in the number of ambulances attending the A&E department and "those requiring urgent clinical attention are always given priority".

Dr Richard Fawcett, a consultant in emergency medicine at the Royal Stoke hospital, tweeted on Tuesday: "As an A&E consultant at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust I personally apologise to the people of Stoke for the 3rd world conditions of the dept due to #overcrowding".

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