Desperate patients are turned away – Are the Tories playing with our lives?
Elective operations cancelled:
Winter 2013/14 – 10,618
Winter 2014/15 – 14,732
Urgent operations cancelled:
Winter 2013/14 – 575
Winter 2014/15 – 752
Ambulances queuing outside:
Winter 2013/14 – 42,620
Winter 2014/15 – 72,911
Andrew Gregory writing in the Daily Mirror regarding the thousands of patients who are having operations cancelled, including those needing ‘urgent surgery’ to save their lives, limbs or organs.
In the most comprehensive picture yet of the crisis engulfing the NHS, today’s shock figures show the soaring number of sick people being turned away as over-stretched hospitals struggle for beds.
So far this winter, 14,731 patients have “suffered the distress” of having elective operations called off at the last minute.
That is up 39% on the same period – November 3 to January 11 – in 2013/14.
More worryingly the number of urgent operations being shelved by hospital bosses has also rocketed to 752 a 31% rise.
It means 210 patients needing elective surgery and 11 requiring urgent operations are turned away every day, according to NHS England figures, examined by labour.
Operations are officially classed as “urgent” following “acute” onset or deterioration of a condition that threaten life, limb or organ survival.
The target time for procedures is meant to be “within hours of the decision to operate”. Last night Labour accused the Tories of “gambling with patient safety”, while Unison leader Dave Prentis said the Government was ” destroying the very essence of the NHS”.
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham fumed: “The A&E crisis is far deeper than people realise and having a damaging effect on the care of th0usands of patients.
“Hospitals all over England are at their limits. Sadly it is patients paying the price. Far too many are suffering distress of having operations cancelled last minute.
“David Cameron’s failure to get a grip on the crisis he created in England’s A&E is dragging the NHS down and putting patients at risk.
“His plans to cut social care even further in the next Parliament will entrench this crisis in the NHS. To have hospitals turning away patients is alarming evidence of an NHS on the brink. Ministers are gambling with patient safety and things cannot be allowed to get worse”.
He said Labour had a “five-point plan to save emergency departments.
The damning figures also reveal more than 1,000 ambulances a day have been forced to queue outside A&E units.
And the number of beds unavailable due to delayed transfers of care has spiralled 26% to 178,468 this winter.
Overall, bed blocking – or delayed discharge – is at a six-year high.
Much of this is down to problems with transport, savage cuts to social care and other NHS holdups. Experts believe years of progress are now being thrown into reverse as our hospitals become overwhelmed by rising numbers of older and sicker patients.
And the situation is only going to get worse, as many hospitals predict they will run out of money within months.
Unison’s Mr Prentis said: “It is an absolute disgrace that in 2015 patients are being refused basic life-saving treatments.
“This Government is destroying the very essence of our NHS and the consequences for patients’ care are devastating.
“With more hospitals struggling to cope with rising demand and staff at breaking point, it is time ministers admitted they have got it wrong and started investing in the service.”
The Government did not deny the stats but a spokesman insisted: “This is yet another cynical attempt by Labour to politicise operational pressure experience in every part of the UK”.
It comes after economist John Appleby , of think-tank The Kings Fund, yesterday warned the NHS was “stretched to the limit”.
“Focus on Disability has no political allegiance – it just knows we are watching our NHS die. One wonders if there are alterior motives within this Government?”