Reviewing the flow of patients in and out of the NHS

Kate Woodhead RGN DMS considers the extreme pressures being faced by the NHS and what needs to be done to address the ‘gridlock’ currently being experienced across the system.

The perfect storm is hitting the NHS at present, with patients queuing at the front door and not being able to progress any further for hours at a time. Patients are waiting to be admitted and so are stuck until a bed becomes available, or they are in the back of an ambulance until such time as they can be seen and triaged in A&E. Due to other pressures, it is also proving problematic to release some patients back home or to a community system, following their treatment. The whole system is thus gridlocked. 

It is a significant problem for both the patients and the healthcare professionals trying to deliver care. The consequences across the NHS are considerable, despite the preparation and planning which has gone into place since last summer. Social care too has immense problems and despite many residential homes having rooms available, they have no staff to support patients, so patients stay in hospital, although they are medically fit to be discharged. 

Politicians are staying remarkably quiet, leaving patients and clinicians to fill the media with pictures and quotes. There are no easy answers but a short review of the ideas and plans which have been put in place may help to inform. 

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