London, 12th November: The Patients Association has today written to the Health Secretary asking him to act now to protect the NHS.

In her letter to Sajid Javid, Chief Executive, Rachel Power, said: “The NHS is running red hot and a crisis is upon us. You cannot stand by while people are dying because they cannot get a hospital bed or ambulance crews are unable to reach them.”

The Patients Association has asked the Health Secretary to:

  • Provide immediate investment in social care
  • Request military back up for ambulance services
  • Bring in Plan B.

Power added: “The number of major A&E departments meeting the four-hour wait target is at a record low – 61.9% against the 95% target. There are 5.8 million people on waiting lists for planned care – behind this number are patients waiting in pain and worried when they might get treatment. Frontline hospital staff and paramedics are working flat out and under unrelenting stress and pressure.

“This situation cannot be allowed to continue as it is. We believe the Health Secretary must act now. Taken together, our suggestions will support the NHS, reduce the current serious risk of harm to patients, and help relieve pressure on staff.”

Extra funding for social care will ensure hospitals can safely discharge medically fit patients into the community, freeing capacity in the NHS.

The NHS in Scotland has already called in military personnel to support it; we believe the military can play a significant role in supporting services in England and the Health Secretary should ask for their assistance immediately.

Introducing Plan B measures immediately will protect the NHS. Without them, many more patients who need immediate care will die. Patients with chronic health conditions will deteriorate to a point where they will never regain their health.

Power added: “We agree with NHS Confederation’s assessment that the NHS “is now under unsustainable pressure and at tipping point”. The Health Secretary needs to act now to prevent the NHS tipping over and all of us enduring a catastrophic winter.”

Photograph of Health Secretary Sajid Javid meeting NHS staff during a visit to St Thomas' Hospital. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street.