Last week I mentioned the increase in funding which the NHS has received every year since 2010. What is very striking is the increase in activity over the same period.
In 2009/10 the Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation Trust performed nearly 78,000 operations. In 2016/17 it performed over 104,500 – a third more.
Similarly, the number of diagnostic tests has increased from around 104,500 to more than 170,500 – a two thirds rise.
The Trust has worked incredibly hard to keep up with rising demand. In the year to date, 93.3 per cent of people coming to A&E were seen within four hours. With the acute pressures this winter, the figure in December was still 85.4 per cent.
The Trust’s highly regarded Chief Executive, Marianne Griffiths, reported last week about the increased pressures this winter. So far this month, emergency admissions have been five per cent higher than last year, which helps explain why bed occupancy actually reached 100 per cent on two days last week in Worthing.
Since Christmas, the Trust has cared for more than 120 people confirmed to have influenza. Marianne thanked her staff for all their hard work in dealing with this situation, a sentiment I would like to echo.
I’ve experienced the wonderful care they provide myself, and saw their dedication to patients. There are now 90 more hospital doctors and 45 more nurses in the Trust than in 2010, but there can never be enough.
At the same time as delivering all of this increased activity, the Trust has driven up standards in its hospitals, winning an unusual ‘outstanding’ rating from the Care Quality Commission.
There is a national debate going on about how much funding the NHS will need in future and how we should pay for it. The population is ageing and rising, the demand for healthcare continues to increase, treatments and equipment are ever more sophisticated and expensive, and all of this impacts upon the NHS.
Let’s have the debate about how we can deliver and fund high quality healthcare in future, taking into account all of the other pressures on public spending, including on the closely related area of social care.
But let’s also acknowledge the NHS improvements which continue to be made, the huge increase in activity which hospitals and clinics have seen, the extra resources which have gone in, and above all the hard work, care and dedication of NHS staff, especially at this exceptionally busy time. Thank you to all of them.
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