National Voices statement on intense pressure facing health and care service

Wed, 11 January 2017

National Voices responds to the worrying intensification of pressure on the health and care system.

Patients, clinicians and managers have reported a sharp intensification of the pressures faced by Accident and Emergency departments. Such pressure is a symptom of a health and care system struggling to cope.

Reports have claimed that last week there were more than 18,000 ‘trolley waits’ of four hours or more, with 485 of them waiting for more than 12 hours. On Friday (6 January 2017), it was reported that two patients died at Worcestershire Royal Hospital after long waits on trolleys.

Concerns have been raised by numerous charities, medical bodies and groups representing health and care managers.

Commenting on the worrying situation, Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of National Voices, the coalition of charities, said:

The extreme pressures faced by A&E departments are a symptom of an entire system that cannot cope and a service that is failing patients.

Over a million older, ill and disabled people are not getting the social care they need*, GP surgeries cannot cope with demand, community health teams are overstretched, and the voluntary sector – which so often provides a safety net for society’s most vulnerable – is facing huge reductions in funding.

This isn’t just a winter crisis, it is an all year crisis that can’t be ‘ridden out’. We cannot wait for a spending review in 2020, the health and social care system needs increased funding now.

Newly released figures from NHS Digital show that in 2015–16, 20,457,805 people attended either an emergency department at an acute hospital or an urgent care centre or walk-in centre. This represents a 4.6% increase on the previous year. Over two million of those attending A&E waited over four hours to be seen.


For further information, comment or interview, contact Andrew McCracken, Head of Communications at National Voices, on 020 3176 0737 or via

* 1 Figures from National Voices members Age UK: 1.2m older people don’t get the social care they need