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'It's time to break the cycle of the annual winter crisis'


This winter is set to be a bad one for the NHS. It’s something that might seem obvious to those of you out there at the moment, under pressure to provide care while under-resourced, explains NT editor, Jenni Middleton. 

Yes, the deferment of non-urgent operations until 31 January as NHS England announced this week is one solution to ease that pressure, but doesn’t that indicate that things are not right? Isn’t that just sticking a plaster over the problem – and delaying the pain – not just for patients but for hospitals too?

“Do we really have to go through this same scenario every winter?”

The fact that there’s never a let-up in the pressure all year round means by the time staff get to winter, they are already emotionally burnt out and physically tired. And now we’re asking those staff to work harder – to face what’s predicted to be a terrible flu season, and a cold winter with quite a few frozen spells with all the associated trips and falls such weather brings.

The NHS and social care system is at breaking point.

Hospitals physically don’t have any more beds, and even if they did find space to find somewhere to put more beds, they have no nurses to safely staff them.

Do we really have to go through this same scenario every winter before someone realises this should not be the way we run our beloved NHS?

Someone should be looking at the services, analysing capacity, working out what we need in terms of beds and staffing, and trying to run the safest possible care service.

“The goodwill of staff will prop up the service and the Service will scrape through by the skin of its teeth”

Instead, once more, I fear that the goodwill of staff will prop up the service and the Service will scrape through by the skin of its teeth. But for how many more winters can it keep doing this?

If the numbers leaving the Nursing and Midwifery Council continue to plummet, it seems that this coping strategy will not work for many more winters.

It’s time to plan for the winter. Not this winter, but next winter and the winter after that and the one after that too. It’s disgraceful to let staff just manage with whatever this period throws at them.

It’s time to sensibly act to support our NHS and social care system.

Keep up to date with news and opinion on the winter crisis and how nurses at the frontline are coping at



Readers' comments (2)

  • Winter happens every year
    Hasn't anybody noticed?
    The NHS is always in crisis at winter.
    Its like the NHS deals with the current Winter as an emergency and then forgets about it until next year.

    The nurses who have to work during this time must be so amazing:
    If you are one who is reading this:
    Thank you and love you


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  • Maybe nurses would better cope with these pressures if they were relieved of work at computers not related to their nursing care. Surely that nice Mr. Hunt could organise an intensive course to train associates to enter other information and arrange post discharge care?

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