Fears Over Emergency Cuts

Concerns Are Growing Over Government Plans To Further Scale Back NHS Hospitals


Concerns have arisen over plans to further increase the pressures on hospitals in the UK.

As part of a government plan to try to reduce the number of emergency patients in hospitals, trusts are being asked to make £2 billion worth of savings over the next two years - a sum that will be redistributed to help the development of social and community projects.

According to the Telegraph, one of the main aims of the plans are to ensure that patients who are elderly or particularly frail have any problems identified sooner, meaning issues will not reach the point where they have to be treated as an emergency case.

If this was to be achieved for all pensioners admitted to hospital then it would see the targets set out by the government achieved. However, critics have stated they believe the timescale involved to be unrealistic.

Instead, they are worried that the rapid time in which hospitals will be expected to make the changes could actually do more harm than good - especially when the existing pressures that medical staff have been forced to work under because of widespread cuts are considered.

The initiative, which is being spearheaded by NHS England, could mean that hospitals would have to cut their admissions by a total of 15 per cent during the two-year transition period - a reduction that equates to 780,000 and one that would represent a scaling back to a level that hasn't been seen for a decade.

Patients groups have been voicing concerns that rather than rejigging in a way that will benefit grassroots community projects, the move will actually put patients at a very serious risk of neglect.

Chief executive of the Patients Association commented that the measures were simply too much too soon, adding that it would be "impossible" for staff to maintain the current standard of care, while trying to achieve such cuts with minimal resources.

She said: "We do not have the services in the community to safely care for patients. We are concerned that this initiative will take time to implement and any fast tracking to save money will have an adverse impact on the care and treatment provided to patients."

Expert Opinion
While any steps proposed to improve the NHS as a whole have to be welcomed, it is vital that any changes made are always carefully considered and implemented in a manner which does not have any adverse impact on the quality of care that patients receive.

"It is important that these plans are placed under the correct level of scrutiny, which includes consultation with groups such as the Patients Association to simply ensure any new approach does not put anyone at risk. Patient safety must always remain the priority for the NHS."
Julie Lewis, Partner