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Ambulance Services: Weather

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN HL1392, tabled on 5 February 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the demand for ambulance services over the winter period.

Answered on

12 February 2020

To support performance this winter additional capital and revenue funding was made available to systems and trusts to support staff and bed capacity throughout the winter. This has allowed Trusts to increase bed numbers and facilities to support better flow and, as a result, the National Health Service has reported over 1,000 more hospital beds are open this winter than at the same time last year.

In addition, a further £240 million has been provided again this year for adult social care to help reduce delays in patients being discharged from hospital by providing social care support.

This is all additional to winter funding last year that provided £145 million of capital funding to hospitals. £36.3 million was also provided to ambulance services for 256 new state-of-the-art vehicles and ‘make-ready hubs’ which shorten the turnaround times for vehicles and increase their availability. The winter period is usually considered to be from December to March, therefore an assessment of demand for ambulance services can be made after winter has finished.

Despite a huge increase in demand, the Care Quality Commission’s State of Health and Adult Social Care Report 2018/19 shows that the vast majority of patients continue to receive good, safe care. Overall quality of care in NHS acute hospitals has improved, with 72% of core services rated as good or outstanding, up from 66% in the previous year.

The quality of care in NHS ambulance trusts has also improved over the last year, with seven out of 10 trusts rated as good and none rated as inadequate. And, as at January 2020, 84% of adult social care settings were rated as good or outstanding. Four out of five adult social care services are rated as good, similar to 2018, and 996 services are providing care that is rated as outstanding.