Healthcare staff across Bucks are preparing for a “challenging winter” amid reports hospitals are already struggling with increased demand.
This week, bosses at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust said action has been taken to prepare for a spike in hospital admissions over the colder months, including designating more beds for medical patients and providing additional support for staff to make sure they remain well.
According to national reports, England could face its worst winter in recent history if extra cash is not ploughed into the NHS for extra staff and beds.
Speaking at a meeting of Bucks County Council’s cabinet yesterday (October 22), cabinet member for health and wellbeing, Lin Hazell, said the authority is set to receive a boost of £1.67 million for adult social care to help ease pressures on the NHS.
The news comes after Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, announced an extra £240 million would be made available to local authorities to reduce delayed transfers of care.
Cllr Hazell said: “It is good news – on October 2 public health and social care announced there would be £240 million of additional funding for councils to spend on adult social care services, and how councils alleviate the winter pressures in the NHS.
“Now don’t get all excited about this because our share is £1.67 million, but obviously it is coming down to us to do some really good work with winter pressures.
“They are saying the totality of the grant will be spent on adult social care services in addition to funding already planned, and that we will have to discuss this with our NHS partners, including acute hospital trusts.”
However, Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury already appears to be struggling under the pressures, with reports of patients sleeping on hospital gurneys due to the lack of beds.
Cllr Hazell added: “We actually want to hear the improvement of service delivery on winter pressures, because it is beginning already.
“A friend of mine I heard yesterday actually spent the whole night on a gurney at Stoke Mandeville hospital.
“There were so many people there they needed around 25 beds and they couldn’t provide any.”
Divisional director for integrated medicine at BHT, Jane Dickinson, assured residents that steps have been taken to prepare for increased demand over the winter.
She said: “All NHS Trusts in the country, including ours, are preparing for a very challenging winter.
“We are anticipating high levels of demand and have been working with our system partners on measures to deal with the increased pressures on healthcare during the winter months, to make sure that patients receive the most appropriate care for their needs.
“This includes reducing non-essential work, such as meetings and training, during the weeks which we know, from last year’s analysis, will be our most challenging.
“As a system we are providing more care and a variety of care options in the community, such as additional support for patients in their own homes and additional care home beds.
“Our priority is to ensure all patients receive the right care in the right place and are not delayed unnecessarily in hospital.
Residents have also been urged to “consider their options carefully” if their case is not an emergency, such as speaking to a pharmacist, call NHS 111, use the Health Help Now app or visit the Urgent Treatment Centre at Wycombe Hospital.