New data from the British Social Attitudes Survey released this week has found that A&E is one of the most unpopular services offered by the NHS. Public satisfaction with A&E services is at the lowest level in 6 years due to the lengthy waiting times faced by patients in A&E departments up and down the country. Government targets insist that at least 95% of patients should be seen within 4 hours. During one quarter in 2013 the number of A&E departments failing to meet this target almost trebled to 39 units, up from 14 in the same period during 2012. A link has also been drawn with cuts in GP services which have forced more patients into A&E due to not being able to get an appointment at their local surgery.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We know we need to relieve pressure on A&E in the long term which is why we’re strengthening the link between GPs and elderly patients and investing more in out of hospital care.”
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said that he believes the survey clearly highlights issues with the current government’s health policies. Burnham described A&E as “the barometer of the whole health and care system” that is “warning of severe storm ahead unless the Government changes course.”
NHS Cuts Affecting Care of Diabetes Patients
A new report has found that the treatment of diabetes by the NHS is inefficient and therefore costing the health service billions of pounds a year. Recent NHS cuts have resulted in the loss of specialist diabetes nurses who can provide timely and correct treatment for patients. This means that many people are living with untreated or mis-managed diabetes which results in further ill health and complications which will ultimately cost the NHS more money in the long run.
Diabetes UK reported that around £10bn a year is spent on diabetes care, with £7.7bn of this going towards treating avoidable complications of the disease. Diabetes patients are prone to things like kidney and nerve damage if their condition is not diagnosed early or if substandard care is provided. The report pulls no punches with Diabetes UK claiming that health chiefs are failing to implement measures that will not only improve patient care but also slash spending. Barbara Young, the Chief Executive of Diabetes UK said: “The NHS is spending an eye-watering amount on diabetes but the money isn’t being used effectively, which is running up a huge bill for the future. This report shows how dealing with problems early, such as by improved inpatient care and effective care planning, costs could be greatly reduced and more people would live longer and healthier lives.” Young goes on to say that the current approach being taken by the NHS is unsustainable.
The charity has put forward a number of proposals around the furtherance of educational programs and the better integration of GP services which they say could save the NHS millions of pounds annually. Jonathan Valabhji, the National Clinical Director for Diabetes at NHS England said: “There are opportunities to improve outcomes for people with diabetes as well as deliver savings for the NHS. We need to seize them”.