House of Commons Library

Opposition Day Debate: NHS Winter Pressures

Published Tuesday, January 9, 2018

This Commons Library briefing page has been prepared in advance of the Opposition Day Debate entitled "NHS Winter Crisis". This debate will take place in the House of Commons Chamber on Wednesday 10th January 2018. This page contains some background information as well as parliamentary material and press articles which Members may find useful in preparation for the debate.

NHS winter pressures data for England

NHS England releases daily situation reports which shed light on pressures in acute hospital trusts. A summary of the data for 2017/18 so far is below. In due course the Library will publish a detailed briefing on winter pressures data.

  • Between 20 November and 31 December 2016, 76,000 ambulance arrivals at A&E were delayed by over half an hour. This is 13.2% of all ambulance arrivals. The peak was 20.2% on 27th December.
  • 16,922 ambulance arrivals at A&E were delayed by over one hour – one in every 34 ambulance arrivals. On 27th December, this rose to 1 in 16.
  • There were 17 NHS trusts in England where more than a quarter of ambulance handovers were delayed by more than 30 minutes over this period.
  • In December 2017 there were 105 temporary diverts between A&E departments to provide respite. This was lower than the 147 recorded in December 2016.
  • In December 2017, 28,222 bed days were lost due to norovirus closures in England. This compares with 25,719 in December 2016.
  • In December 2017 an average of 95,864 general & acute beds were available each day – around 300 higher than in December 2016, but around 2,300 lower than in December 2015.
  • General & acute bed occupancy was above 95% for nine days in December 2017, compared with seven days in December 2016.

 

Winter pressures funding

In the Autumn Budget 2017, the Government announced £335 million of winter funding to be provided to NHS trusts, with the final figure confirmed as £337 million once allocations were announced in December.

This is in addition to £100 million of capital funding announced in the Spring Budget 2017 for A&E departments, to ease pressure on emergency departments and increase GP streaming in time for winter 2017/18.

In previous years, additional winter funding has also been allocated to the NHS:

Year

Additional Funding

Date

2011-12

£300 million (winter resilience)

January 2012

2012-13

£330 million (winter resilience)

September 2012

2013-14

£400 million (winter resilience)

November 2013

2014-15

£700 million (winter resilience)

Start of the financial year

2015-16

£400 million (seasonal resilience)

Start of the financial year

2016-17

£400 million (seasonal resilience)

Start of the financial year

Source: PQ 69388, 5 April 2017

In response to an Urgent Question on 8 January 2018, the then Health Minister Philip Dunne cited £1 billion of Government funding for social care, in part to increase the number of care packages for patients discharged from hospital, and an extended flu vaccination programme, as additional action the Government had taken to prepare the NHS for winter pressures.

 

Deferred operations

On 2 January 2018, NHS England's National Emergency Pressures Panel made a series of recommendations to help hospitals deal with the increased winter demand, including:

  • Deferral of all non-urgent inpatient elective care until 31 January - although cancer operations and time-critical procedures should continue as planned
  • Day-case procedures and routine outpatient appointments should also be deferred where this will free up clinical time for emergency care
  • Suspend sanctions for NHS trusts which breach the expectation not to provide mixed-sex accommodation
  • Prioritise flu vaccination of all frontline staff

Deferred operations will not be picked up in future cancelled operations data, as this source covers last minute cancellations.

 

Parliamentary material

Written Parliamentary Questions

PQ HL416 [on NHS: Finance]

PQ 119890 [on Hospital Beds]

PQ 119596 [on Influenza]

PQ 118429 [on Death: Weather]

PQ 118753 [on Accident and Emergency Departments]

PQ 116898 [on NHS: Migrant Workers]

PQ 115919 [on Accident and Emergency Departments: Christmas]

 

Oral Parliamentary Questions

NHS Funding (Autumn Budget) (HC Deb 19 December 2017 c900)

A&E Departments (HC Deb 19 December 2017 c904)

NHS Funding (Autumn Budget) (HC Deb 19 December 2017 c901)

NHS Funding (Autumn Budget) (HC Deb 19 Decmber 2017 c900)

NHS Funding Trends (HC Deb 19 December 2017 c895)

 

Parliamentary Debates

NHS Winter Crisis (HC Deb  8 January 2018 cc25-39)

 

Press articles

Sturgeon and Robison apologise to patients over winter NHS delays

BBC News, 8 January 2018

[About the Scottish Government's response to NHS winter pressures in Scotland]

 

Mass closure of NHS walk-in centres is fuelling winter crisis, claim campaigners

The Observer, 7 January 2018

 

May defends handling of NHS amid winter crisis: 'Nothing is perfect'

Sky News, 7 January 2018

 

NHS boards reveal winter pressure plans

BBC News, 6 January 2018

[About winter pressures on the NHS in Scotland]

 

NHS tax call to relieve 'unprecedented' winter pressures

BBC News, 5 January 2018

[About NHS winter pressures in Wales]

 

Why is the NHS under so much pressure this winter?

The Guardian, 5 January 2018

 

How to save the NHS: experts offer their big ideas

The Guardian, 5 January 2018

 

 

Long ambulance waits double in a week as NHS winter crisis bites

The Telegraph, 4 January 2018

 

NHS delays non-urgent operations after winter pressures

Financial Times, 3 January 2018

[Parliamentary subscription required]

 

Hunt apologises for 'unacceptable' cancellations of operations despite NHS being 'better prepared'

ITV News, 3 January 2018

 

PM hails NHS readiness for winter as operations are cancelled

GP Online, 3 January 2018

 

Hospitals to delay non-urgent operations

BBC News, 3 January 2018

 

Jeremy Hunt defends decision to postpone non-urgent NHS surgery

The Guardian, 3 January 2018

 

Winter pressure forces NHS to halt elective care until end of January

GP Online, 2 January 2018

 

NHS hospitals told to take drastic measures amid winter crisis

The Guardian, 2 January 2018

 

NHS winter pressure: Hospitals report 99 per cent capacity over festive period as flu season looms

The Independent, 1 January 2018

 

Trust leaders notified of extra funding allocations with 'clear expectation'

Health Service Journal, 15 December 2017

[An article about the funding allocations being made to NHS trusts to relieve winter pressures - parliamentary subscription required]

 

Chancellor's funding announcement 'plugs some holes' in NHS budget

Health Service Journal, 22 November 2017

[About the extra £335 million (or £337 million according to later reports) allocated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Autumn Budget to trusts, designed to relieve NHS winter pressures]

 

Commons Debate packs CDP-2018-0006

Authors: Andrew Mackley; Alex Bate; Carl Baker

Topic: Health services

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