The Latest NHS Crisis Figures 2023

The Latest NHS Crisis Figures 2023
BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam
Legally reviewed by: BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam In: Medical Negligence

Now that 2022 is over, NHS crisis figures have been trickling in from many sources, revealing the extent of the UK-wide issues.

Health leaders have warned that the high NHS crisis figures will continue until at least Easter while senior doctors accuse ministers of letting patients die needlessly through inaction.

More than a dozen trusts and ambulance services have declared critical incidents in recent days. NHS demands have drastically peaked due to the spike in Covid and flu viruses in combination with an overstretched workforce. As a result, the pressure on the health service is at breaking point with warnings of a potential 500 deaths a week due to delays in emergency care alone.

With the overwhelming amounts of data being published every day on the latest NHS crisis figures, this article provides a summary of the figures in three areas of the NHS facing some of the largest issues: ambulance waiting times, staffing issues, and maternity care.

If you or a loved one has suffered due to NHS negligence, you have a legal right to sue the NHS for medical malpractice and negligence. Additionally, when you sue the NHS, it helps to flag up poor areas of healthcare, therefore ensuring the same mistake does not happen to anyone else.

You can read more about making an NHS negligence claim here.

Contents

Ambulance Waiting Times – NHS Crisis Figures

NHS Staffing Issues – NHS Crisis Figures

Maternity Ward Crisis – NHS Crisis Figures

Making a Claim

Ambulance Waiting Times – NHS Crisis Figures

In the last week, new data has emerged revealing the extent of ambulance delays over the festive period. The data highlights a record number of ambulance delays in dropping off patients at A&E departments.

Unfortunately, these ambulance delays have been carried forward from the festive period into 2023.

The first week of January saw more than 40% of ambulance crews having to wait at least half an hour to hand over patients to A&E, the highest figure since records began ten years ago.

Covid and Flu Admissions Causing Ambulance Delays

A large cause for the spike in ambulance delays has been what the UK Health Security Agency is terming ‘the worst flu season in a decade.’ So far in 2023, 1 in 7 hospital beds are occupied by someone suffering from one of these infections.

However, there is some hope that these figures will soon relax as we move into the new year. Covid and flu admissions did drop last week, however, the figures remain high.

The UK Health Security Agency is warning that it is too early to say whether the flu season has yet peaked. This is because reports lag over the Christmas period which may affect the data.

Ambulances Facing One Hour Wait Outside A&E Units

Figures from BBC News Analysis additionally revealed that more than 10,000 ambulances a week are waiting for at least an hour outside A&E units. This is the highest figure on record since 2010.

One family informed the BBC that their 85-year-old relative faced a 40-hour wait before being admitted to hospital. The lady who lives in Cornwall rang 999 after breaking her hip. Due to ambulance delays, she had to wait an “agonising” 14 hours for the ambulance.

You can read more about the story here. 

Delays in Responding to 999 Calls

The story above is sadly just one of many. NHS data released in November 2022 shows ambulance crews were unable to respond to almost 1 in 4 999 calls. This is due to many ambulances waiting for at least an hour to hand patients over.

As a result of ambulance delays and admission to A&E delays, it’s predicted that as many as 5,000 patients in England will suffer severe harm.  AACE say that their own analysis of the delays seen during October suggests that more than 40,000 patients may have suffered harm because of delays.

If you or a loved one has experienced suffering due to NHS staffing issues you may be eligible to make a claim. Our team of medical negligence solicitors handles every case on a no-win, no-fee agreement, with compassion and sensitivity, working hard to get to know everything about what happened to you to present the best care possible on your behalf.

Find out more about A&E negligence claims and ambulance and paramedic negligence claims here.

Urgent Action to Support the Ambulance Services

The number of paramedics joining the NHS has increased by 13% since March 2018. However, sickness absence, attributed mainly to poor mental health increased to 9% in March 2022. This is the highest of any organisation type in the NHS.

Despite the workforce growing, the capacity has been severely reduced due to the wait times outside of hospitals. The NHS being stretched has had a knock-on effect that has unfortunately made a large impact on ambulance services, resulting in delays and a decline in performance.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We recognise the pressures the NHS is under and are taking urgent action to support the ambulance service and staff so they can deliver high-quality care to patients.”

This included an additional £500m for freeing up hospital beds, the spokesperson said, pointing also to £3.3bn per year for the next two years announced in this month’s autumn statement

Your Postcode Affects Your Ambulance Waiting Time

Recent data uncovered by freedom of information requests by the Liberal Democrats shows that your postcode can drastically affect how long you’ll have to wait for an ambulance.

The study investigated England’s 10 ambulance trusts, focusing on waiting times for 227 areas across the country.

Waiting Times for 999 Category One Calls

Category one calls are the most urgent of all 999 calls. An ambulance is meant to arrive within seven minutes to the scene of a category one call.

However, the recent data shows several areas reporting times close to or more than fifteen minutes.

Mid-Devon had the longest ambulance wait time of fifteen minutes and twenty seconds. This is nearly three times as long as the average of five minutes and forty-eight seconds in Hammersmith, west London.

Mid-Devon is not alone with 83% of areas across England missing the seven-minute target for category one calls.

Waiting Times for 999 Category Two Calls

Category two ambulance calls are less serious but still cover the likes of suspected strokes and heart attacks. The target for an ambulance to respond to a category two call is eighteen minutes. However, in twenty-two areas, patients had to wait for on average more than an hour.

The longest average for a category two ambulance call is Cornwall with a time of one hour and forty-two minutes. Just two years ago this figure was thirty-two minutes. In thirty-two areas, the average wait for a category two call had doubled or more over a two-year period.

Additionally, only two of the two hundred and twenty-plus areas which provided data managed to get below the eighteen-minute target. These were Croydon in South London and one district of Carlisle.

Daisy Cooper, the Lib Dems’ health spokesperson, said: “This stark postcode lottery means that if you suffer a heart attack or stroke, your chances of getting to the hospital on time depend on where you happen to live.”

“Ministers must bring forward extra support to get ambulance services through winter as well as a long-term strategy to ensure people can get emergency care when they need it. That means addressing workforce shortages, fixing the social care crisis, and ending the shortage of hospital beds, all of which are leaving patients in ambulances stuck outside A&E for hours.” 

Overstretched NHS Staff – NHS Crisis Figures

Engage Britain revealed new analysis showing that 1 in 4 adults (28%) believe themselves or a family member have experienced poor NHS care due to workforce problems. Examples include staff being under too much pressure, a lack of staff, or poorly trained staff.

Citizens assembly has publicly claimed workforce issues as the biggest health and care threat. The issue has been noticed by the public too. A recent poll of 3,000 adults by Engage Britain reveals that 69% of Brits think that to safely emerge from the pandemic we need to prioritise more health and care staff.

Staff Conditions in Greater Manchester Hospital Reflect Wider Issue

A doctor from Greater Manchester hospital has recently stepped forward to bring awareness about the conditions staff are experiencing. The doctor has claimed that conditions are so bad that staff is becoming reluctant to go back to work. The staff are describing this crisis as “soul-destroying”

The doctor, who has asked to remain anonymous, said “Just when you think a shift can’t get any worse, it does.  Recently, there were 180 patients in the department which was way over capacity. Patients lucky enough to have a bed or trolley line every corridor.”

Additionally, the doctor states there is a three-hour wait before the nurse could triage patients. “Until that point, we don’t know how sick someone is or even what they’ve presented with.”

As a result, staff are “running on adrenaline, but this will run out”. They add that seeing colleagues “tired and breaking and not wanting to come back to their next shirt” was “soul-destroying”.

Comments from the Department of Health and Social Care

A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care states they recognise the pressures the NHS is facing following the impact of the pandemic.

They add that the department was “working tirelessly to ensure people get the care they need, backed by up to £14.1bn additional funding for health and social care over the next two years.”

“This includes investing an additional £500m to speed up the safe discharge of patients from hospital, creating the equivalent of 7,000 more beds nationally.”

High Volumes of NHS Staff Leaving

Analysis from Engage Britain has revealed over 400 NHS workers in England are leaving every week due to work-life balance pressures.

Additionally, recent Skills for Care estimates show a high rate of turnover in the English social care workforce, with over a third (34%) of care workers leaving their roles in 2020/21.

Statement from Engage Britain Director, Julian McCrae:

“Frontline health and care workers are running on empty as they support us through the pandemic – and the British public wants to see them fairly paid and treated with dignity. At the same time millions of people who need help from the NHS worry their care is suffering because of our hugely strained workforce.”

“NHS workers across the country have spoken to us about feeling overstretched, undervalued, and struggling to get support in a chaotic system. Many also know being pulled so thinly means patients who need their support are worse off as a result – a lose, lose situation for everyone.”

“We can’t allow staff to burn out while putting patients at risk of mistakes or spiralling downwards as they wait months for treatment. The government must act quickly to expand its promise of reform, based on listening to the people who use or work in the system every day. Only answers rooted in real experiences can deliver health and care that works for us all.”

If you or a loved one has experienced suffering due to NHS staffing issues you may be eligible to make a claim. Our team of medical negligence solicitors handles every case on a no-win, no-fee agreement, with compassion and sensitivity, working hard to get to know everything about what happened to you to present the best care possible on your behalf.

Find out more about delays in medical treatment claims and delays in diagnosis claims here.

Maternity Ward – NHS Crisis Figures

News headlines on maternity services have been prominent in the press this month with BBC’ stating “At a national level the 2022 maternity survey shows that people’s experiences of care have deteriorated in the last five years.”

These conclusions come from the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) maternity NHS crisis figures for 2022, published on the 11th of January 2023. The survey looked at 20,000 women and pregnant people who gave birth in February of 2022.

Although the survey shows that some areas have improved such as mental health support, many areas in which the experience of new patients using the NHS has got worse.

The areas of maternity care that are showing the most struggle are those which have led to patients suffering life-changing injuries or deaths. This includes,

  • staff not being on hand when needed
  • the hospital not involving parents in decisions made about care/birth, including where to have the baby
  • parents-to-be not receiving the correct advice and support. 

Maternity care standards are a topic we have reported on throughout 2022. For an insight into how this topic evolved through the year, you can read more of our case studies and articles.

If you or a loved one has experienced suffering due to NHS staffing issues you may be eligible to make a claim. Our team of medical negligence solicitors handles every case on a no-win, no-fee agreement, with compassion and sensitivity, working hard to get to know everything about what happened to you to present the best care possible on your behalf.

Find out more about pregnancy claims and birth claims here.

Staff Not Available When Needed

The CQC’s NHS crisis figures highlight a major issue in staff not being available during crucial times. Therefore, patients are not always able to get help when they were concerned about their baby’s health and well-being.

The survey revealed that only 57% of women were always able to get assistance during their hospital stay from staff when they needed it.

Additionally, 10% of women surveyed stated they were not able to get any help when they needed attention.

As a result, patients are having to send their partners or relatives off to search the hospital for midwives and doctors. When they find the staff, they are told that the doctor was too busy with other patients to be able to come and see them. This can lead to delays in picking up on warning signs and catching issues before they can evolve into bigger issues such as causing life-changing injuries or death.

Parents Not Involved in Decision Making

The CQC NHS crisis figures also revealed that 74% of women and other pregnant people state they were always informed in decisions about their care during labour and birth. Although on the surface this figure might look optimistic, it still means that 26% (1/4) of people were not always involved in decision-making.

The NHS should always involve women and other pregnant people in all decisions about their baby and their own care.

Our solicitors are seeing increasing numbers of parents who have not been consulted about even the most basic decisions. Additionally, there are many cases where patients have not been informed of the pros and cons of the options available to them. This can include options on the baby’s delivery such as where they want it to happen.

As a result, medical negligence claims have been surfacing regarding failures where if the patient had been properly advised and involved in a decision regarding their pregnancy and birth, they would have made a different choice. By making a different choice the parents could have avoided the bad outcome.

No Choice in Where to Have the Baby

A fifth of women are stating the hospital did not offer any choices about where to have their baby. This includes at home, a midwife-led unit, a midwife-led unit in a hospital, or an obstetric unit.

Although each option has a positive and negative, it is vital that the NHS makes families aware of all of these so they can decide what is best for them.

A failure to properly advise families can result in tragic outcomes. For example, if there are no doctors on duty at a midwifery-led unit and something goes wrong, it will take longer to get help than if they were in an obstetric unit. The delays in arranging a transfer from the midwifery-led unit lead to cases where a baby dies before the transfer is made. The benefits and the risks of where to have a baby are something parents must be made aware of.

Parents Given Poor Advice and Support

Furthermore, 18%t of those polled felt the NHS did not give them adequate advice or support when at the hospital.

Evidence from CQC shows many patients had not been receiving the correct advice, especially in the ante-natal period.

An example is where mothers were not advised of the risks of their baby contracting the group B Strep infection so they could test for it. Sadly, their babies were seriously injured as a result.

How the NHS Can Improve Maternity Services

There have been lots of reports in the last few years to try and get to the bottom of, addressing and fixing issues in maternity services. Hopes to improve those aspects of maternity care that are declining.

One example is the reports Donna Ockenden is carrying out. The aim of these independent reviews is to make sure the performance of the hospital trusts maternity services improves as quickly as possible and in a way that means those improvements can be sustained.

You can read further about Donna Ockenden’s reviews of the hospital trust’s maternity services here.

Making an NHS Negligence Claim

With the latest statistic of 28% of adults experiencing or knowing a family member who has experienced poor care from the NHS, it’s important to raise awareness that you or a loved one may be able to receive compensation for the suffering.

If you have suffered as a result of medical negligence, then our solicitors can help you. Our specialist medical negligence solicitors will help you go through your medical negligence claim with care and expertise, helping you receive the compensation you deserve.

During a consultation, we will go through the prospects of your claim with you first. If we believe it to be in your best interest to pursue a negligence claim then we will advise you so, however, you are under no obligation to proceed. If you do wish to proceed, we will handle your claim on a no-win, no-fee basis, so you do not have to worry about any legal costs.

Common claims our no-win, no-fee medical negligence solicitors have handled include:

Do you believe you are suffering after receiving negligent medical care? Then request your free, no-obligation consultation today.

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