NHS facing 'intolerable' pressures which have become 'major crisis' ex-nursing chief warns

3 January 2023, 08:30 | Updated: 3 January 2023, 09:54

Ex-RCN boss warns there is a 'major crisis' in the NHS

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Pressures facing the NHS are "intolerable" and have become a "major crisis", the former head of the Royal College of Nursing has warned.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Dr Peter Carter said: "It is a terrible set of circumstances that we find ourselves in and we know that this is the result of years of underinvestment, particularly in social care."

He added: "Now, because of winter, because of flu, because of Covid and all sorts of other problems, you've now got a major crisis.

The conversation comes amid warnings that the deaths of up to 500 people each week could be caused by delays in emergency care.

Read more: 'Wear masks while out and about', health bosses tell sick Brits, as NHS creaks amid wave of Covid and flu

"Back in August, an 87-year-old man in Cornwall spent 15 hours lying in his garden and his family put a makeshift shelter up because they couldn't get an ambulance.

"We have a crisis and there's no good people trying to dilute it.

"Right now, things are intolerable and I feel for patients, but I also feel for the staff."

Asked by Nick if the Government was aware of the problems, he added: "The Government are aware and the trouble is because they've been asleep at the wheel for the best part of this decade, they're now pouring money in - they are putting £14 billion in over the next two years - but that's not going to help what's happening this morning.

"That's a long-term strategy, and that strategy is good, but you're now paying for a failure to act on this crisis and now we've reached the tipping point."

Nick Ferrari sums up his experience of A&E

It comes after more than a dozen NHS trusts and ambulance services declared critical incidents over the festive period, with officials citing rising flu cases and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic among the reasons for the pressure on the health service.

Professor Phil Banfield, chair of British Medical Association (BMA) council, hit out at both the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary as he offered a stark warning about the scale of the crisis facing healthcare workers.

"The current situation in the NHS is intolerable and unsustainable, both for our patients and the hard-working staff desperately trying to keep up with incredibly high levels of demand," he said.

"The BMA has repeatedly invited the Government to sit down and talk about the pressures on our health service, but their silence is deafening.

"It is disingenuous for the Prime Minister to talk about 'backing the NHS' in his New Year message, when his own Health Secretary is failing to discuss how this crisis can be fixed."

He called on the Government to "step up and take immediate action" to solve the crisis.

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