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New emergency NHS plan must address vacancies, leaders warn

New emergency NHS plan must address vacancies, leaders warn
By Jess Hacker
30 January 2023

NHS England and the Government are set to announce an urgent and emergency care recovery plan today, backed by a £1bn dedicated fund.

The two-year delivery plan is expected to promise 800 new ambulances, including 100 specialist mental health vehicles, and 5,000 more sustainable hospital beds.

NHS England will also expand urgent care provided in the community, with services extended to run for at least 12 hours a day, while same day emergency care units, staffed by consultants and nurses, will be open in every hospital with a major A&E.

The blueprint will also look to ensure people transition out of hospital more smoothly to help reduce readmission.

NHS England also drew attention to the 7,000 virtual ward beds currently in the community, which are expected to benefit 50,000 patients a month by the end of 2023/24.

But health leaders have warned that the plan must address the staffing crisis facing the NHS, particularly as the Government and trade unions are at a standstill.

Saffron Cordery, interim chief executive at NHS Providers said that although the new measures are welcome ‘they are not enough in themselves’.

She said: ‘We desperately need action to tackle the vast workforce shortages, staff exhaustion and burnout, and the inability to free up capacity by discharging medically fit patients in a safe and timely way.’

And Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that ‘if the Government continues its standstill with the trade unions on pay this could lead to further disruptive strikes and frontline staff walking away’.

He added that the NHS needs the right mix of staff in place if it is to ‘truly recover’ its performance.

‘The NHS has been at the mercy of a sluggish and short-term approach from the Government in its response to the crisis facing emergency services this winter,’ he said.

‘Extra pots of money have been welcome but they have come too late to have maximum impact when it comes to easing winter pressures. In future years, health leaders are clear this funding needs to come much earlier to give health and care services enough time to recruit extra capacity.’

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