NHS to set up ‘war rooms’ to cope with ‘toughest winter on record’

18 October 2022, 20:52

Frimley Health NHS Trust during the pandemic
Frimley Health NHS Trust during the pandemic. Picture: Getty
Fran Way

By Fran Way

The NHS is setting up ‘war rooms’ as it prepares for what could be one of the toughest winters on record.

New plans reveal that respiratory infections could occupy half of all hospital beds in the country.

Under the government’s winter preparation plan, new 24/7 system control centres are set to be created in every local area.

The idea is the system will constantly track how busy hospitals are for the first time – meaning quick decisions can be made to treat patients faster, like diverting ambulances on route to A&E to another hospital with more space.

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In a letter to every local health service in the country, NHS chiefs also rolled out plans to treat people who have fallen over at home instead of taking them to hospital in an ambulance.

They say this could free up 55,000 ambulance journeys.

Local areas will also develop new hubs dedicated to serious respiratory infections including Covid, flu, pneumonia and acute bronchitis which are set to be the biggest pressure on the NHS this winter.

Other ideas include:

  • Extra beds in hospitals and in the community
  • More call handlers working in NHS 111 and 999
  • 24/7 professional mental health advice in ambulances

NHS chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: “Winter comes hot on the heels of an extremely busy summer – and with the combined impact of flu, covid and record NHS staff vacancies – in many ways, we are facing more than the threat of a ‘twindemic’ this year.

“So it is right that we prepare as much as possible –the NHS is going further than it ever has before in anticipation of a busy winter, and today we have set out further plans to step up these preparations – building on our existing plans to boost capacity set out in August this year.

“Whether it be new services to support people who have fallen at home, hubs to treat respiratory infections, or system control centres helping us to navigate pressures across the entire country, every one of these initiatives will make a real impact on the ground – helping to relieve pressure on frontline staff as well as seeing patients quickly and directing them to where they can receive the best possible care.

“Vaccines remain an important part of our defence this winter – everyone who is eligible has the power to protect themselves from both flu and covid – so please do book in today if you haven’t already”.

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