18 November 2022
Responding to the Autumn Statement announced yesterday in the House of Commons by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt MP, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Adrian Boyle said:
“The emergency care system is in crisis and our hospitals are full – October 2022 figures show 94.3% bed occupancy (general and acute beds). These figures come before we have even hit the depth of winter, where pressures typically increase. Reports show Trust leaders are increasingly fearful of the winter ahead with deep concerns around capacity, workforce, burnout and social care. We welcome the Chancellor’s recognition yesterday of some of these problems, though we urge him not to underestimate the scale of the challenge looming in the next few months. It is going to be an extremely difficult period.
“We welcome the increase in NHS funding over the next two years. At a time when public spending is tight, we are glad to see the government make the NHS a priority. However, given current inflation, Trusts will still need to make difficult decisions. There will be concern around what the NHS is able to do and what it may need to cut. Staff are already doing more with less, so finding further efficiencies will be difficult.
“The additional funding for social care is welcome. It is imperative that the social care workforce is significantly bolstered to help discharge patients stuck in hospital. Carers do important work, supporting frail and vulnerable patients leaving hospital. This frees up beds and encourages flow in our hospitals. They and their work must be valued, respected, and appreciated.
“The NHS workforce is exhausted and burnt out. The significant shortfall in staff is contributing to the increasingly challenging environment as staff are spread more thinly and doing more with less. Morale is low, staff feel under-appreciated and devalued in the face of a deep crisis.
“The Chancellor has clearly recognised this and has committed to publishing independent workforce projections. We have been campaigning, like many others, for a fully funded long-term NHS workforce plan, and yesterday co-signed a letter to the Chancellor alongside over 100 organisations. Workforce projections are a significant and welcome step towards the publication of a fully funded long-term NHS workforce plan that this government pledged to deliver – we urge the Chancellor that delivery of the workforce plan must be the next step. This must include measures that supports and retains our existing dedicated and hard-working staff.”