DAUK GP, Dr Lizzie Toberty adds her thoughts on the soaring waiting lists and an exhausted workforce situation, which needs billions to avoid a crisis. Will the health secretary persuade a hard-nosed chancellor to fund the health service?
It has taken a combination of sheer grit, creativity and the adoption of some unprecedented emergency measures unthinkable at the start of last year. After 18 months of dealing with the pandemic’s ravages, there are now hopes that the NHS, perhaps Britain’s most revered and beloved of institutions, has managed to withstand the worst of the Covid onslaught. Yet although cases remain at far lower levels than some feared they would this summer, frontline staff fear the service faces a troubling diagnosis.
Hospitals in many parts of the country have been struggling in recent weeks to cope with the “unprecedented” number of people seeking A&E care. One longstanding trust leader said he had never seen his services so busy. Another boss at a rural hospital in a holiday hotspot said: “We are the busiest we have been in a summer, that’s for sure, and we have seen many record days of demand.” Elsewhere, private ambulance services have been enlisted to help NHS 999 crews concentrate on the sickest patients. In Cornwall, police have been helping the NHS arrange volunteers in 4×4 vehicles, usually only enlisted to help during severe weather, to take patients home when they are discharged from hospital, to reduce the strain on ambulances.