“Unexpectedly high” demand for acute service
The NHS Trust Development Authority is set to investigate the “unexpectedly high” demand for acute services, which has seen winter pressures roll over into the summer months.
The work is due to examine the causes behind the apparent surge in demand and how trusts had responded, with many hospitals missing national A&E targets as well as numerous elective care and cancer standards during May. 93.9% of non-foundation trust patients waited less than four hours at accident and emergency, failing the 95% target. Trusts also missed the target that required 90% of admitted patients to be treated within 18 weeks of referral, with performance actually at 88.2%.
Dale Bywater, the TDA’s director of delivery and development for the Midlands and the East told the HSJ “At this time of year we generally expect some recovery after the winter period. That hasn’t been the case this year; there seems to be an increasing pressure on A&E departments…admissions and attendances are fairly significantly up on this time last year. This feels less now like a winter / summer service and much more of a norm that’s facing organisations.” He continued that one of the reasons pressures were being maintained was because of the rising frailty of A&E patients. “You have quite a small change in admissions of the frail elderly but…the impact on longer stays is quite significant.”
David Flory, chief executive of the TDA said “This time last year when we discussed service performance, our main focus was on A&E. The difference this year is we’ve got pressures in A&E care caused by the increases in demand…but as you see across the whole spectrum of measures there’s increasing pressure in lots of other areas.”
Providers have received extra funding this year in a bid to help turn around performance. £400 million has been given to support A&E departments whilst £250 million of funding will be used to help clear elective treatment backlogs.