Doctors and health service providers welcomed publication of an NHS strategy for managing demand ahead of another busy winter for health and social care, but said it failed to address underlying problems with the system.
In a letter to the heads of NHS trusts and integrated care boards, NHS England chiefs said they had begun planning for capacity and operational resilience in urgent and emergency care ahead of "significant challenges" during the coming months.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said the strategy was a "step in the right direction", but "lacks detail", while the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) said it amounted to little more than "a crisis mitigation plan".
The package of measures included creating the equivalent of 7000 extra general and acute beds through a mix of new physical beds, scaling up 'virtual' beds, and "improvements in discharge and flow". The letter acknowledged that there was "a significant number of patients spending longer in hospital than they need to" and that whilst "the provision of social care falls outside of the NHS’s remit, the health service must ensure patients not requiring onwards care are discharged as soon as they are ready and can access services they may need following a hospital stay."
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Source: Medscape, 15 August 2022