Rise in urgent cases worries hospitals

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The Independent Online
Health service leaders yesterday called for an urgent meeting with Stephen Dorrell, Secretary of State for Health, over concerns about the rising trend in emergency admissions to hospitals. The National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts wants to make clear the "tremendous pressures" that mounting admissions are putting on health trusts.

A recent study for Nahat and the British Association of Medical Managers found emergencies have risen by 14 per cent in three years. It predicts that this is a long-term trend.

"There is no getting away from the fact that, overall, the trend is likely to continue upwards," the Nahat newsletter, published today, said.

The study concluded that the increase of 14 per cent is caused by a variety of factors. These include the fact that patients are older and therefore frailer; there are more cases of certain illnesses and conditions (such as hip replacements and cataracts); and patients have higher expectations of the health service.

Family doctors were said to feel less able, or less willing, to cope with seriously ill patients in the community and families are less able to look after their relatives when they are ill.

Some of the solutions recommended were that health policy makers, doctors and managers ought to work together to ensure they fully understand the causes of the difficulties, that all parts of the health and care system work together, and that there is careful monitoring of the need for acute and elective beds.

"The NHS is very much in the spotlight over its capacity to deal with this increase and staff are working very hard to deal with the immediate pressures.

"There is little doubt that what is needed is a concerted effort by doctors, managers, ministers to tackle this issue and to come to a better understanding of the position overall," a spokeswoman said.

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