Cash injections to ease the pressure on already over-stretched A&E departments are a “sticking-plaster” on a widening crisis, unions have warned, as details begin to emerge of grants to hospitals in Yorkshire.
The Department of Health (DoH) revealed yesterday the allocations for the first £59m of funding promised as part of the Spring Budget.
Three hospitals in Yorkshire are to be granted sums from between £337,000 to £708,000 to ease pressures on emergency departments in time for next winter. But health unions have warned that the sums are a drop in the ocean in comparison to the scale of the nation’s health crisis.
“This isn’t just a problem about A&E,” said Unison head of health for Yorkshire Tony Pearson. “This is about a wider crisis. They can throw money at hospitals, but it doesn’t mean they can get the staff.
“Over the last five years we’ve seen a huge reduction in community nursing staff. GP services are massively over-stretched as well. Without significant investment into primary care we will see a growing crisis in A&E.
“The Government needs to put long term investment into the health service, or we end up with sticking-plaster solutions year after year.”
The funds for next winter will ease pressure on accident and emergency (A&E) departments in England. The allocation list from the DoH yesterday revealed that three hospital trusts in Yorkshire are among 70 nationwide to benefit from the first round of its £100m A&E capital funding.
The funding will be used by hospitals to meet their four hour targets for admitting, transferring, or discharging patients.
The plans outlined by trusts include primary care streaming and co-locating GP practices within A&E departments to ensure patients are treated in the most appropriate setting.
The three trusts are Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which has been given £708,000, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which has been given £337,500, and Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which has been given £386,000.
A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust said: “The money has been granted in response to a bid we put in to fund a number of schemes on both the LGI and St James’s sites to help improve patient flows over the winter period.
“The announcement is welcome news and will help us improve the experience for our patients.”
Emergency patients had the worst winter on record this past year, with nearly 200,000 waiting at least four hours for treatment across England.
Across the country, 86.2 per cent of A&E patients were seen within target time in December, while in parts of Yorkshire that figure was even worse.
Just 77 per cent of those attending A&E units run by The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust were seen within four hours. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust had the second worst A&E performance in Yorkshire, hitting the target with 78.1 per cent of patients. And Unison has warned that there is an underlying problem in the health service that needs to be addressed.
“The Government can throw money at it. But a one-off allocation isn’t going to solve the crisis,” said Mr Pearson. “Of course, any funding is welcomed, it certainly won’t do any harm.
“But what we really need is a long term plan, with money behind it, to address long term issues around community, social, and primary health care.”