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Medical Negligence

Blog: NHS patients set for another bleak midwinter amidst code black warnings

Written by Alison Flaherty, Partner & Head of Clinical Negligence


November 3, 2022

Written by Fletchers Solicitor’s Junior Litigation Executive, Olivia Bates

The British Medical Association (BMA) have published a new manifesto in anticipation of ‘the worst winter on record’.

Included in the manifesto are issues such as NHS spending, better staffing and pay.

In a report on NHS winter pressure, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

Enough is enough. Right across the health service, trusts and GP practices will be bracing themselves for what looks set to be the worst winter the NHS has ever endured.

Patient congestion unlikely to ease this winter


The additional pressures this winter are likely to have a knock-on effect across the entire health sector.

For example, a shortage of GP appointments leads frustrated patients to A&E waiting rooms.

This has become known as patient flow.

When it comes to combating patient congestion, the key issue proposed is safe staffing legislation across all UK health services.

However, cynics suggest this could see waiting times in A&E in excess of four hours.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of NHS Confederation consequently told the London Evening Standard:

As the NHS hurtles towards another monumentally busy winter period, we are facing a ticking timebomb where vital shifts might not be filled because of the ongoing pensions crisis.

In other words, Health experts believe we need at least 10,000 additional hospital beds to cope with the influx of traffic.

Code black critical incident across Nottingham’s NHS

Recent events in Nottingham echo wider concerns.

The University Hospitals Trust that runs the Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital are experiencing unprecedented demand.

A&E pressures saw staff declare a ‘code black’ critical incident recently, meaning they must cancel operations in favour of emergency care.

The Trust’s response communicates that there are simply not enough available beds for patients to recover.

Subsequently, there’s a lot to digest here, especially if patient safety is at risk.

Taking Nottingham’s hospital care as an example, 160 patients were waiting on the day the ‘code black’ was declared.

Now there’s a general election on the horizon both leading parties are pledging more funding.

Boris Johnson has announced a £1.8 billion one-off cash boost for NHS hospitals, whilst Jeremy Corbyn has proposed £7.4 billion per year for our NHS.

With winter fast approaching, patients may need NHS funding more than ever.