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Pressure on English A&E departments reaches ‘record high’

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Accident and emergency attendance and admissions are spiralling upwards as winter pressures take hold across the health service.

NHS England’s latest winter health check report, which was published today, shows the position for A&E, winter pressures and influenza for the week ending 14 December 2014.

It reveals that there were 111,062 emergency admissions to hospital last week, the highest recorded number since records began over a decade ago.

“I want to pay tribute to the staff dealing with that they are doing a brilliant job”

Barbara Hakin

The NHS also experienced very high levels of attendance, with 440,428 patients attending A&E up more than 24,000 on the same week last year.

However, there was some solace from figures showing the number of beds closed due to diarrhoea and vomiting or norovirus like symptoms are average for this time of year.

The report highlighted that the issues were “about every part of the system” and that A&E departments were “simply the pinch point”.

University College London Hospital

Dr Barbara Hakin, national director of commissioning operations for NHS England, said: “Pressures on our A&E services continue to increase significantly.

“We have admitted more people to hospital this week to take care of them than in any previous week on record. I want to pay tribute to the staff dealing with that they are doing a brilliant job,” she added.

“A&E departments across the country face immense pressures and many are buckling under the strain”

Peter Carter

The report noted that around £700m had been “injected” to support the NHS over winter and that a further £50m had been deployed to support a range of initiatives in the wider system – including ambulance trusts and NHS 111.

But Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, warned that many A&E departments across the country might be “buckling under the strain”.

“Our health service is running at full capacity and the strain on the system is immense,” he said. “The fear is that as the festive period gets underway, A&Es are set to get even busier and performance could deteriorate further.

“Frontline nursing staff are working incredibly hard to care for record numbers of patients and this situation is not sustainable,” he said.

“NHS trusts can’t hire enough nurses because of misguided cuts to training places,” he added.

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