This year’s NHS winter pressures monitoring cut to shortest period on record
For a few months every winter, hospitals are required by NHS England to publish considerably more information on their day-to-day performance than usual. This is called “Additional Winter Monitoring.”
An absolute gold mine of data is released on NHS England’s website throughout this period, with Situation Reports (“SitReps”) released every weekday whilst Additional Winter Monitoring is taking place. For example, we can find out from this that last winter, ambulance handovers to hospitals under the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust were delayed by over thirty minutes on 1,400 separate occasions – with patients forced to wait outside before getting into A & E.
It makes sense that some people would have a vested interest in keeping the winter monitoring period as short as possible, which is why the answer we received to a written question I worked on is so interesting.
We asked the Secretary of State for Health to publish the length of the Additional Winter Monitoring period over each of the past five financial years. Here’s the data they released:
|Year||Monitoring Period||Number of Days|
|2010/11||1st Nov 2010 to 20th Feb 2011||111|
|2011/12||1st Nov 2011 to 1st Mar 2012||121|
|2012/13||6th Nov 2012 to 28th Feb 2013||114|
|2013/14||4th Nov 2013 to 30th Mar 2014||146|
|2014/15||3rd Nov 2014 to 29th Mar 2015||146|
|2015/16||1st Dec 2015 to 29th Feb 2016||90|
In short, this winter, NHS England will be commencing Additional Winter Monitoring a month later than usual and ending it a month earlier. It will now take place over 90 days – the shortest period on record.
Ministers maintain that this is entirely NHS England’s decision and they haven’t applied any pressure. Yet NHS England haven’t offered any rational reason – be it administrative, medical or based on this year’s weather forecasts – why they’d have reduced the monitoring period so considerably this year. So we’re still waiting for an explanation.
[Image: Greg Clarke]