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Why are people worried about the NHS?

Paramedic shares story of 'crumbling' NHS failing to reach dying patients amid …

The NHS is facing a crisis, with medical professionals describing the current situation as “unbearable” and “intolerable”.

More than a dozen NHS trusts and ambulance services declared critical incidents over Christmas. But why are the emergency services under such pressure?

Officials have cited rising flu cases and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic among the factors affecting the NHS.

NHS England's Chris Hopson spoke on BBC Radio 5 Live and laid out some of the factors impacting on the health service.

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As he said in the interview, there are around 3,750 people with the flu in hospital beds compared to 520 just a month ago. There are also 9,500 Covid patients compared to less than half the number a few weeks previously.

There was also an 18 per cent rise in people coming to A&E in the last six weeks of the year, with around 9,500 NHS staff also absent due to Covid.

The NHS is facing a growing crisisiStock

Delayed discharges of medically fit patients is also a factor, with the number currently at 12,000. Hopson also pointed to the long term impact of a growing population and a fall in living standards.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine repeated its claim that somewhere between 300 and 500 people are dying each week as a result of delays and problems with urgent and emergency care – comments which appear to be based on research published by the Emergency Medical Journal.

That research suggested that for every 82 patients whose hospital admission is delayed by more than six hours results in one death within 30 days.

It comes after nurses across England, Northern Ireland and Wales went on strike in December over pay. Thousands of operations were postponed and A&Es as a result, with nurses saying they were striking over the safety of patients who have to experience short-staffed services every day.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “NHS staff do an incredible job and we recognise the pressures the NHS is facing following the impact of the pandemic.

“That’s why we’ve backed the NHS and social care with up to £14.1 billion additional funding over the next two years and this winter we have provided an extra £500 million to speed up hospital discharge and free up beds.

“We also awarded a 9.3 per cent pay rise to the lowest earners in the NHS last year.

“The Health Secretary and ministers have met with unions several times and have been clear their door remains open to further discuss how we can work together to improve the working lives of NHS staff.”

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