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NHS Winter Performance

Volume 638: debated on Wednesday 28 March 2018

I would like to update the House on the winter pressures on the NHS following the opposition day debate held in January.

This winter we have seen worse weather than in many recent years, with sustained drops in temperature known to increase heart attacks, stroke and respiratory conditions. This has been coupled with prolonged pressure on hospitals from beds occupied by patients with norovirus and also flu, having experienced the worst flu season since 2010.

However, despite these extra pressures, thanks to the hard work of NHS staff:

over 55,000 people were seen within four hours per day in February. This is 1,000 more people per day than in the same month last year.

NHS 111 offered 150,000 extra calls each month over winter with the amount of callers receiving clinical advice increased to nearly half; and

over one and a half million more people have been vaccinated against flu compared to the same period last year, with the highest ever uptake among healthcare workers at 68.7%.

Last year’s spring Budget allocated £100 million of capital to help hospitals set up GP streaming services with 99% of NHS trusts now having this in place. In addition, at the autumn Budget, the Government provided £337 million for NHS winter funding; this funding has helped the NHS to open over 2,600 acute beds over the winter period.

In order to support emergency care across the NHS, national clinical leaders advised that non-urgent operations should be postponed in January. NHS England has published the information showing that this freed up around 1,400 beds across hospitals in England. This represents around 3% fewer planned admissions this January compared to last year.

The Government remain firmly committed to ensuring that patients are seen promptly when they need urgent and emergency care. The NHS will receive an additional £2.8 billion between 2017-18 and 2019-20. The NHS England Mandate for 2018-19 sets out the milestones for improved A&E performance during 2018-19.