The NHS will suffer its worst winter in recent history if it does not receive a £350m emergency bailout, hospital chiefs have warned.
The cash is desperately need to fund extra staff and beds, with waiting times and bed shortages remaining “stubbornly bad,” according to NHS Providers, which represents NHS chief executives.
The government has given councils an extra £1bn for social care services to help relieve the pressure on hospitals but experts warn that it is not enough to prevent a repeat of the chaos seen across parts of the health service last winter.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “Last winter the health service came under pressure as never before. This winter could be worse.”
He acknowledged that planning had been much better this year but said that despite those efforts, and the extra money for care services, hospitals were still struggling to improve performance.
“We are in virtually the same position as this time last year,” added.
“Unless we get extra money, patients will be put at greater risk as local trusts won’t have the beds and staff they need to meet the extra demand we will face.”
Mr Hopson suggested that delays in discharging patients, and workforce shortages, were hampering their efforts, noting that the NHS budget had increased by only 1.3 per cent this year compared to a 5 per cent rise in demand.
And just last week, the Nuffield Trust, highlighted the “eye-watering” scale of overspending in NHS hospitals last year was masked by official accounts
The think tank claimed that health chiefs spent almost £3billion more than they reported in 2016-17.
The analysis also predicted that NHS managers will be hit with £2.2billion in unfunded inflation in 2017-18, half a billion higher than was planned, and that without more cash, hospitals and other facilities will still be £2billion in the red in 2021.
Mr Hopson said NHS bosses had made savings of £20bn in the last Parliament.
But he added: “There’s a bit of a myth running around that somehow if the NHS could be that bit more efficient or a lot more productive we wouldn’t need to put this extra money in.
“Of course we should find more productivity and efficiency, but it’s not going to close anything like that size of gap.”
Pauline Philip, NHS national director for urgent and emergency care, said: “The NHS will face challenges this winter, as it does every year, but as NHS Providers have stated winter planning is more advanced than it was last year and, as they argue, special attention is being paid to areas where pressures are likely to be greatest.
“This is something we will continue to review on the basis of evidence rather than arbitrary estimates.
“If the expectations for reduced Delays Transfers of Care outlined by the Government are achieved, this would free up a further 2,000-3,000 beds over the winter period, on top of the extra 3,000-plus beds that hospitals now say they’re going to open.”
NHS leaders are expected to meet Theresa May next week to discuss plans for this winter.
This article was taken from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/03/nhs-faces-another-winter-crisis-without-350m-emergency-bailout/