6 January 2017
As news reports surface that A&E departments across the UK are experiencing one of their busiest weeks ever, the British Red Cross is reiterating its call on the government to allocate funds for health and social care.
In the space of just 24 hours, some 14 health trusts have warned of overcrowding in their A&E units. This is also having a knock-on effect on ambulance services with many facing significant delays.
Much of the pressure on hospitals at the front end stems from delays in discharging patients.
Many patients are fit to leave hospital but they can’t because the right care and support isn’t available for them at home.
A lack of investment in care services for adults, cuts to funding and increasing demand have led to a gap in care provision.
The end result is people stuck in hospital beds that are needed for new patients, or they are discharged without adequate support.
Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said: “No one chooses to stay in hospital unless they have to, but we see first-hand what happens when people are sent home without appropriate and adequate care.
“We’ve seen people sent home without clothes, some suffer falls and are not found for days, while others are not washed because there is no carer there to help them.
“If people don’t receive the care they need and deserve, they will simply end up returning to A&E, and the cycle begins again.”
Through our support at home service, the Red Cross helps alleviate some of the pressures faced by hospitals.
We send volunteers and staff to help establish people’s social care needs and improve the flow of patients in and out of hospital.
Our experience shows us that where more vulnerable people are supported at the point of leaving hospital, it helps to free up beds, helps NHS staff, and helps people in their recovery at home.
In the current crisis, the Red Cross has already provided support to staff at the East Midlands Ambulance Service across Nottingham, Leicester, Lincoln, Kettering and Northampton.
Elsewhere we have boosted our existing support at home services to help alleviate some of the pressure.
For example, in one area we have been working alongside hospital Matrons to arrange transport for people who have been discharged and have more volunteers ready to ensure people are settled back into their homes safely.
To adequately address the pressures faced by A&E departments, the Red Cross is calling on the UK government to invest in health and social care, and to do so smartly, including a focus on preventative services.
Mike Adamson said: "We have been called in to support the NHS and help get people home from hospital and free up much-needed beds.
“This means deploying our team of emergency volunteers and even calling on our partner Land Rover to lend vehicles to transport patients and get the system moving.
“We call on the UK government to allocate immediate funding to stabilise the current system and set out plans towards creating a sustainable funding settlement for the future.”