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Another “Winter crisis” on horizon for NHS without urgent action

Published on 08/08/22 at 09:43am

The NHS in England could face “very serious challenges coming down the track” without significant action tackling the emergency crisis it faces, the Health Secretary has warned.

Steve Barclay, who was appointed to his post following the resignation of Sajid Javid in July, has shared that the Department of Health was in a "real sprint to get ready for September".

Meanwhile, DIY dentistry is on the rise, as 90% of NHS practices are not accepting new adult patients. In some areas of England such as the East Midlands, this figure stands at a soaring 97%, with the south-west, north-west, Yorkshire and the Humber reaching 98%.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Louise Ansari, the national director of Healthwatch England, described the situation as “dire”, sharing that she had heard of people taking matters into their own hands, and pulling out their own teeth.

Ansari shared: “So many people can’t get an NHS dentist appointment, they’re in pain, they’re anxious, some people can’t eat or speak properly,” describing cases of “DIY dentistry, things like making teeth out of resin and sticking them in to […]  gums with superglue, which is an absolute desperate situation for somebody to be in.”

In his first interview since taking on the job as Health Secretary, Barclay shared: “There's an urgency to prepare, particularly in areas where there's a long lead time. The decisions need to happen now, not wait until the autumn by which time those lead times wold put the resolution at too late a stage.”

The comments from the Health Secretary follow repeated warnings from NHS staff and MPs, sharing that the healthcare service faces what is now the worst staffing crisis in history, with England falling short of 12,000 hospital doctors, and over 50,000 nurses and midwives.

A report by MPs highlighted that reluctance to decisively plug the staffing gap could threaten plans to tackle the COVID-19 treatment backlog. The government was also reportedly not on track to deliver the manifesto commitment to increase the number of GPs in England by 6,000.

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