The NHS said there would be at least 4,800 staff working in 111 and 2,500 in 999 call rooms to cope with higher demand.
By: Pramod Thomas
The NHS has started to increase capacity by increasing bed and staff availability ahead of winter, a statement said on Friday (12).
Around 7,000 beds will be added and initiatives to improve patient flow will also be launched in the coming months.
The NHS said there would be at least 4,800 staff working in 111 and 2,500 in 999 call rooms to cope with higher demand. The extra capacity in 999 will help staff meet record demand, with a live call response dashboard and a target to answer calls in 10 seconds on average.
Recent data showed that only 40% of patients were able to visit the hospital when they were scheduled to do so in July.
Extensive planning is already underway for an autumn covid-19 boost program as well as the annual flu campaign, the NHS statement added.
Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said: “Winter is always a busy time for the NHS and this is the first winter where we are likely to see combined covid and flu pressures, so it is only right that we prepare as much as possible early. as much as we can for the additional demand we know we will face.
“Staff are already under pressure from continued high demand for our services – with figures showing the busiest summer ever for NHS emergency departments, with 2.18 million A&E attendances and almost 900,000 999 calls received in June, and in July the largest number of category 1 ambulances. notices since records began.
“Ahead of winter, we want to make sure we do everything we can to free up capacity so staff can make sure patients get the care they need – this includes timely discharge, working with social care and a support better in the community. with the expansion of virtual wards.”
An extra £10m of funding for mental health services has been provided to cope with record demand throughout the winter and mental health professionals will be deployed to 999 call centres.
In addition, GP services will be supported by the recruitment of additional staff who link social prescriptions and health and wellbeing coaches to support patients, the statement added.
Official NHS figures showed that despite July’s heatwave, NHS staff dealt with more than 85,000 (85,397) Category 1 ambulance calls – the highest number since records began and almost two-thirds more higher than in July 2020 (51,771).
This is also a third higher than before the pandemic, with 23,610 more of the worst incidents than in July 2019.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “By increasing capacity, increasing NHS 111 and 999 support, tackling delayed discharge and using new innovations such as virtual wards, we can help patients get the care they need when they need it.
“In addition, we have launched a task force to increase recruitment of international staff in critical roles across the system, as we recruit and retain more doctors and nurses so we can continue our work to clear the covid backlog, having now practically eliminated more than two years of waiting as part of our Elective Recovery Plan – supported by record investment”.
Earlier this week, the NHS announced it had virtually scrapped two-year waiting times for elective care before the end of July.