Responding to NHS England’s winter situation report, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare system, said:
“Preliminary figures are indicating that services are already under a huge amount of strain – and that’s without a flu outbreak and cold weather. A weather warning has already been issued for this weekend – so things are likely to get worse.
“The Ambulance sector is under real pressure with continuing rising emergency activity and delays at some hospitals. Like everyone else, they are just-about-coping, but that’s largely thanks to the fact we are better prepared for winter than ever before.
“It’s vital we remember that winter planning and resilience isn’t just about hospitals and emergencies – it’s also about local services such as GP surgeries and mental health provision.
“Only by focusing more on out-of-hospital care can we even begin to reduce the demand on the hospitals which are now at bursting at the seams.
“The number one priority needs to be fundamental reform of social care provision – but sadly the political class continues to kick the issue down the road.”