Sunday, 11 January 2015

Almost as if the whole thing had been scripted.

14 November 2014:

This is the time of year that NHS bosses - and their political masters for that matter - start to look at the weather forecasts.

A bad winter can make a huge difference to the health service. A cold snap increases the number of falls and amount of respiratory illness, while the vomiting bug norovirus can take hold on hospital wards.

And this year, the stakes could not be higher. With little more than six months to a general election, all eyes are on how the health service copes, particularly in England.

15 November 2014:

The alert was issued to people across north east Essex after Colchester General Hospital declared a "major incident".

It came after a surprise inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on Wednesday where the health regulator raised "safeguarding concerns". It also found that staff were struggling to cope with "unprecedented demand".

17 November 2014:

A number of other hospitals in England are likely to be facing severe problems of staff shortages and patient-demand of the scale that prompted the declaration of a major incident at Colchester hospital last week, one of the country’s most senior doctors has warned.

20 November 2014:

Hospitals have reached record levels of crowding, according to official figures which have sparked fears that the NHS is standing on the brink of a winter crisis.

Experts said hospitals were “full to bursting,” with latest quarterly statistics showing hospitals operating at the highest capacity levels recorded for the time of year. NHS leaders said that many hospitals had become so busy that it would take little more than “a gust of wind” to bring some to collapse.

21 November 2014:

Accident and emergency departments in England saw 92.9% of patients within four hours last week - the lowest percentage since April 2013, NHS data shows.

The government sets a quarterly target for hospitals to see 95% of emergency cases within four hours. A&E waits have been below that level since the end of September.

22 November 2014:

The NHS is heading into an A&E crisis even before winter has begun, patient leaders said after figures showed that thousands more people waited more than four hours to be seen last week.

Emergency units are overflowing and thousands of patients are enduring long waits on trolleys because hospitals are too full to admit them, official data showed yesterday.

24 November 2014:

NHS workers, including nurses, midwives and ambulance staff, have staged a four-hour strike in England as part of a pay dispute.

They were protesting about the decision not to implement a 1% rise for all staff recommended by a pay review body. Members of nine unions walked out at 07:00 GMT in England and at 08:00 GMT in Northern Ireland.

25 November 2014:

The Health Secretary has spoken numerous times to urge the public to avoid A&E departments in all but the most urgent cases and turn to pharmacies, doctors’ surgeries and walk-in centres instead.

But speaking during today’s health questions in the House of Commons, he appeared to go against his own advice. Mr Hunt said: “I took my own children to an A&E department at the weekend precisely because I did not want to wait until later on to take them to see a GP.”

26 November 2014:

Senior consultants in the NHS have told ITV News that the accident and emergency service is heading for a winter crisis.

Four doctors say around 50 hospitals are already struggling - and as the winter weather worsens, they predict the crisis will worsen too unless urgent action is taken.

27 November 2014:

Ambulances could be turned away from a hospital to try ease the strain on a casualty department which is struggling to cope.

The Accident and Emergency department at Northwick Park Hospital in north London has been under pressure following the closure of two other A&E units.

And that's just the second half of November, the ante was upped considerably throughout December, when the scripted predicted A&E crises actually happened - despite the fact that the winter weather was pretty mild and there were no terrible flu outbreaks or natural disasters or anything.


Rich Tee said...

Yes, only a few months away from an election.

It shows how Labour still have so many allies in the media, and even hostile outlets need copy, so Labour makes sure that its press office, and the press offices of all its allies in the public sector, swamp the journalists with material.

Mark Wadsworth said...

RT, yes, I assume that Labour were given a copy of the script, it's very useful for them as well.

A K Haart said...

Would we have noticed this kind of thing before the web? Maybe not so clearly, but I wonder how many don't even spot it now?

The Stigler said...

Excellent work, Mark.

There's some statistics on A&E admissions showing the data per week (see England Time Series for, and unless I'm reading it wrong, w/c 4th Jan 2015 had considerably lower A&E admissions than most weeks in the previous years, and this is common (2011 had a peak, maybe ice or something).

Mark Wadsworth said...

AKH, yes we would have noticed. But it used to be a lot more difficult to check we'd remembered correctly and then prove it to others.

TS, good link. Number of admissions was clearly not out of the ordinary, and admissions have been on a gently rising trend for years (up 3% a year or so, each and every year).

Rich Tee said...

MW: "yes, I assume that Labour were given a copy of the script"

No, it will be Labour and Labour sympathisers who are sourcing most of this material.

Mark Wadsworth said...

RT, fair enough, bearing in mind their chosen theme for the upcoming election, maybe they co-wrote it.