More ‘Major Incidents’ Declared as Hospitals Feel the Strain

In Industry News, Insurance by PCH Staff

With waiting lists growing longer, an apparent lack of staff and growing demand on services, cracks are starting to show in the NHS. Has there ever been a more compelling time to think about private medical insurance?

For the NHS, the New Year arrived with a bang and there was a flurry of media activity as hospitals up and down the country declared an unprecedented amount of major incidents. Whilst many have downplayed the apparent crisis as a short-term issue, there are those who are using it to highlight inherent problems within the NHS.

But What Denotes a Major Incident?

Major incidents are declared when routine hospital services are threatened by increasing patient demands and they are approaching full bed capacity.

Usually, major incidents are a rare occurrence – only reserved for terror attacks or air crashes – but the fact that so many have been declared already this year points to possible capacity issues within the NHS.

So far this year, more than a dozen hospitals have declared major incidents as they struggled to cope with patient demand. More worryingly, this figure is likely to be an underestimate as many will have been feeling the strain, but refrained from a formal declaration to maintain their reputation.

What’s the Knock-on Effect?

With hospitals focusing all their attention and available resources on A&E departments, it’s often the patients who are in for non-urgent procedures who end up losing out. This is because their routine operations often have to take a backseat while more urgent A&E incidents are prioritised.


It’s not just patients who miss out. Staff training is another crucial element of the NHS; one which is being put on hold while hospitals are struggling to cope with the demand for their services. This obviously has a longer-term effect on the NHS and could lead to a situation where health workers are in desperate need of new training, but simply have no scope to undertake it.

Worst for a Decade

Latest figures paint a rather gloomy picture of the NHS, with A&E waiting times in England at their worst level in a decade. In fact, figures from the end of last year show that 92.6 % of A&E patients were seen within four hours. While this figure may seem high, it is still short of the NHS’s 95 % target.

The current NHS crisis has unfolded without any of the added burdens that stem from traditional winter illnesses or severely adverse weather.

With the high demand on A&E services at the moment and routine operations being cancelled as a result, it’s a good time to think about private medical insurance. It has to be remembered that the NHS still does provide world leading care for cardiac and cancer patients, however this service like many publically funded services is being placed under significant cost restraints. This is highlighted by the recent announcement that the cancer drug fund is being reviewed. Private medical insurance can help here too by covering many new innovative drug therapies.

It is always easier to take out a policy while you are fit and well so we would suggest you consider private medical insurance cover now.

At Premier Choice Group we can talk to you about all of your healthcare needs from private medical insurance right through to protection.

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