Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Fears of worst ever NHS winter crisis as Government urges the sick to go to chemists NOT GPs

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has held an emergency briefing and admitted pressures were "higher than they have ever been"

Crisis fears: Government has issued warnings

The cash-starved health service is urging the sick to get treatment from chemists rather than GPs as the NHS faces its worst winter crisis.
At an emergency briefing Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted pressures were “higher than they have ever been” in the wake of the Tory-led Coalition’s demands for cuts of £5billion.
And Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS, said: “We’re keen to encourage people to use pharmacies more. Our GPs during the winter are really under strain.”
Mr Hunt made it clear he backed the move to get more patients to use stores such as Boots and Superdrug.
Asked if it was designed to relieve ­pressure on surgeries, he replied: “Yes.”
The admission was furiously denounced by Labour which accused the Government of panic measures.
With GPs under increasing strain and experts warning of a shortage of doctors, MP Grahame Morris raged: “Jeremy Hunt is seeking to ration health care.”
Warning: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

And Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham blasted the Coalition for allowing A&E departments to get worse not better.
Last year there were 31,000 “excess” winter deaths with nearly all of the victims over 65. Mr Hunt announced a £700million cash injection in a desperate bid to head off a pre-election crisis.
“That is because the pressures are higher than they have ever been.”
Appealing for people with coughs and colds to turn to high street chemists, NHS boss Sir Bruce said: “A lot of strain could be relieved if people use pharmacies.”
He insisted pharmacists were highly qualified and admitted they are often much easier to see than a GP.
He went on: “Because of their clinical expertise they can either recommend off-the-shelf treatment or they can refer you to your GP and A&E.”
Mr Hunt backed the plan and said he was even considering giving chemists access to patients’ health records. But Labour opposite number Mr Burnham was furious.
He said: “We’ve been telling David Cameron for more than two years to get a grip on the crisis he created in A&E. Throwing money at it when winter’s about to start is not good enough. A&Es are getting worse, not better, and this panic move is too little to stop the NHS facing a difficult winter.”
Furious: Andy Burnham

Older people’s charities hit back too.
Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said: “Pharmacists are excellent sources of advice but an older person feeling really unwell should never hesitate to seek immediate help from their GP.”
The row came days after charity the Nuffield Trust warned spending on GPs fell 5% last year.
Labour MP Mr Morris, who sits on the Commons Health committee, warned: “The NHS is facing a triple whammy – a growing funding crisis in hospitals and primary care but also in funding social care for an increasing elderly population.
“Jeremy Hunt’s approach is to deploy smoke and mirrors and deny the fundamental problem – a shortage of resources.”
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, admitted they had been under strain all year and warned the situation was likely to worsen as the weather turned colder.
He said numbers attending A&E have soared 7% in a year while hospital admissions have leapt 5.5%.
Strain: Simon Stevens

David Flory, chief executive of the NHS Trust Development Authority, said wards are becoming increasingly crowded.
The £700million Mr Hunt announced yesterday is made up of £400million slipped out earlier in the summer as bosses realised a crisis was looming and £300million ­emergency funding.
Up to 2,500 extra beds will be opened in A&E departments and thousands of new staff drafted in.
Around £50million will go to ­ambulance services with GPs’ surgeries getting £25million. But Christina McAnea of health union Unison said: “The NHS doesn’t need a quick fix, it needs sustainable long-term funding.”
And Tom Sandford, director of the Royal College of Nursing in England, called it “a sticking plaster solution”.
He added: “The system is under immense strain. Only last week the Government’s own auditors warned the current approach is unsustainable and that finances are getting worse.”




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