Health secretary apologises as thousands of non-urgent operations postponed

Health secretary apologises as thousands of non-urgent operations postponed

The panel extended the deferral of all non-urgent inpatient elective care to 31 January, though said cancer operations and time-critical procedures should go ahead as planned.

In a letter to the secretary of state for health and social care, Jeremy Hunt, its chief executive, Chris Hopson, writes: "Despite preparing for this winter better than ever before, national and local preparations have been insufficient to meet the levels of patient demand that trusts are now experiencing".

And John Kell, head of policy at the Patients Association, said that the advice indicates how hard the NHS is being hit by winter pressures this year. "After five years in the job, he should be taking responsibility, not fleeing the scene".

People scheduled to have outpatient appointments at Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) are being urged to attend as normal, despite winter pressures on the NHS.

Ambulance services warned they were under heavy pressure even before New Year's Eve - traditionally their busiest night of the year - had begun.

If you need non urgent advice and don't need to come to A&E, you could call the free NHS 111 service.

NHS England also said sanctions for mixed sex accommodation breaches should be temporarily lifted.

More news: Ellen DeGeneres, Jeff Bridges among those impacted by mudslides

The MP for South West Surrey also paid tribute to the NHS staff working in "very tough conditions".

"We're saying actually we want to do this in a measured, structured way so we set up an independent group of very senior doctors who look at the latest information, the pressures in the system, what's happening with flu and so on. The NHS needs to take further action to increase capacity and minimise disruptive last minute cancellations".

"Short-term fixes, however well meaning, will only get us so far".

More than 4,100 people attended the two Accident & Emergency departments at Worthing and St Richard's Hospital in Chichester, run by the same trust, over the holiday period. "And there's more flu around than usual", said Prof Chris Moulton, the vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), which represents A&E doctors.

The specialist team is being established after the percentage of patients at the hospital's Emergency Department treated within the target time of four hours dropped below 70 per cent in December, compared to the Government's target of 95 per cent.

"And we know that excessive crowding within emergency departments is associated with avoidable deaths".

The money will fund a variety of urgent care support services over the winter.

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