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NHS Snapshot: NHS news for February 2018
Added: 22nd February 2018
Despite our amazing NHS dealing with record numbers of patients over this winter, it is still facing ongoing challenges to meet the levels of patient care it has set for itself. Here’s a quick snapshot of how the NHS hit the headlines this month:
- ‘Winter wait’ blues for A&E patients
NHS England has released figures showing that just 85.3% of patients were seen at Accident & Emergency departments within the waiting time target of four hours in January.
In other words, A&E waiting time performance hit its worst level on record, with over a thousand patients left waiting for 12 hours or more.
A variety of pressures including staffing shortages and record numbers of people visiting A&E from October to December are thought to have contributed to 2017/18 being the worst winter for waiting times.
- IT issues risk patient safety
Experts have warned that computer problems in the NHS could be leading to hundreds of deaths in the UK every year.
According to The Independent newspaper, Professor Harold Thimbleby and Professor Martyn Thomas, who specialise in computer science and information technology, think there are 100 to 900 computer-related deaths per year and that even this is a big underestimate.
This is because research has shown that in American hospitals, 8% of all deaths are caused by errors, which, if translated to UK healthcare, could mean there are 88,000 deaths in the NHS every year.
- Workforce woes exposed
For the first time ever, an official breakdown of recruitment gaps across all trusts has been published, highlighting that one in eleven posts across NHS hospital, ambulance and mental health trusts are currently vacant.
In total, the quarterly data released by regulator NHS Improvement for the year to December 2017 reveals that the 234 NHS trusts in England have 100,000 vacancies, with a third of these being for nursing roles.
- Deficit doldrums remain
Deficit concerns continue to plague NHS providers, with NHS Improvement figures showing that NHS trusts are over £1.2bn in deficit. That is £365m worse than the £916m planned deficit.
The regulator also said that providers projected an end-of-year deficit of £931m, which is £435m worse than planned.
However, NHS Improvement pointed out that the deficit is still not as high as it was in 2015/16 when it reached £2.47bn.
More NHS news coming…
Don’t forget to check out our NHS Snapshots going forward. We are planning to run one a month, allowing you to keep up with the latest developments and most pressing issues facing our NHS.