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British NHS to face its worst winter: Hospital chiefs

This file picture shows the exterior of the Royal London Hospital in London. (Photo by AFP)

British hospital chiefs warn that the National Health Service will suffer its worst winter in England’s recent history unless an emergency funding is provided by the government.

The NHS group, which represents hospital chief executives, is calling for between £200 million and £350 million in urgent funding. This, as the government says it has allocated more money to the services than ever before.

The cash will be spent to pay for extra staff and beds as efforts to improve finances have failed, officials say.

Councils have received an extra £1 billion for social care services in order to help relieve the pressure on hospitals, however, the latest figures indicate A&E waits and bed shortages are still “stubbornly” bad.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said, “Last winter the health service came under pressure as never before. This winter could be worse.”

“At its height, the NHS had to provide 4,500 additional beds a day – equivalent to more than eight extra hospitals,” he said. “We are in virtually the same position as this time last year.”

“Unless we get extra money, patients will be put at greater risk as local trusts won't have the beds and staff they need to meet the extra demand we will face.”

He said the NHS will not “have sufficient capacity to manage this winter safely” without extra funding.

In June, the British Medical Association (BMA) accused the government of deliberately ignoring concerns about the country’s crisis-hit health service.

The BMA said on Monday that the health service was at breaking point and concerns were being willfully ignored by ministers.

“We have a government trying to keep the health service running on nothing but fumes. A health service at breaking point,” said BMA chairman of council, Mark Porter.

The leading doctors blamed the British government for a health system running on fumes in the absence of necessary health spending.

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