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Social care crisis leaves thousands trapped in hospital beds in UK

Strike action and the social care crisis have left thousands more people trapped in hospital beds with nowhere to go while other patients struggle to access the care, nullifying an increase in funding and NHS staff, it has been reported.

A damning internal review of NHS efficiency carried out last year has reportedly revealed that, despite a £20bn increase in funding since 2018 and 15% more doctors and nurses on the NHS payroll, the health service was carrying out only slightly more routine treatments than it was before Covid.

Julian Kelly, the NHS finance director, said productivity was “still lower than it was pre-pandemic”, with staff struggling to discharge patients and unable to cope with the delays to procedures and appointments triggered by striking NHS staff, the Times reported.

About a third of this productivity reduction stemmed from statistics not capturing improvements such as an increase in the number of patients sent home on the same day, the newspaper said. Yet hospitals were still 11% less productive than before Covid, the review concluded, and the number of people in hospital for more than three weeks had risen 15% on pre-Covid levels.

The rise in staff numbers masks the true picture of what has been happening to staffing levels in hospitals. While the number of inexperienced junior staff has increased, older, more knowledgable nurses and doctors have quit the NHS.

Last July, the Guardian revealed a growing exodus of highly experienced NHS doctors and surgeons to foreign healthcare systems, including Ireland, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, where they can double their salary and enjoy better working conditions.

NHS leaders suspect this has worsened productivity and are reportedly planning a training and management “blitz” to help improve the situation. They are also promising a host of other improvements, including modernising computer systems.

In March, a damning report by MPs found that the government had brought adult social care in England “to its knees” with years of uneven funding and a “woefully insufficient plan” to fill thousands of staff vacancies.

A report by the General Medical Council last year warned that a growing number of doctors plan to leave the profession this year due to burnout and dissatisfaction.

Layla McCay of the NHS Confederation said: “Health leaders recognise they have an important role to make the best of the resources they are given”, adding that “clearly the NHS has further progress to make”. However, she said that improving productivity “will forever be a challenge if the government does not wake up to the scale of the population’s health problems.” The Guardian

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