Elective care resumes but hospitals remain under huge pressure

Elective care has resumed at most hospitals across England, NHS officials say, despite continuing high pressure on the acute sector in the final week of January.

NHS hospital (Photo: iStock)
NHS hospital (Photo: iStock)

The latest update on winter pressures from NHS England shows that around 95% of beds across hospitals in the country were full in the week to 28 January for the third week running - well above the 85% target.

A total of 11,061 patients arriving at hospital by ambulance faced handover delays of more than half an hour upon arrival, a figure marginally up from the previous week. Delays of more than an hour were slightly down from the previous week, at 2,143.

Data on numbers of flu cases seen by GPs over the past week are due later on Thursday, but NHS England says levels of both flu and norovirus remain 'raised'.

Winter pressure

An NHS England spokesman said: 'Raised levels of flu and norovirus cases continued to put pressure on busy hospitals and other frontline services last week.  And while the NHS is generally coping with ongoing winter demands, the public can continue to play their part by using NHS 111 and pharmacists for advice.'

NHS 111 is also under high pressure, taking 328,400 calls in the week to 28 January - 13.6% up on the same week in 2017.

GP leaders have warned repeatedly that GP practices have been struggling to cope this winter with seasonal demand on top of existing pressures, and an additional surge in appointments from patients whose elective care in hospitals has been delayed.

Although an NHS England spokesman told GPonline that the elective care freeze had now been lifted, hospitals still experiencing extremely heavy workload that do not wish to lift restrictions on non-urgent care can appeal to local NHS leaders for permission to keep them in place.

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