Cold-related A&E admissions condemned
Published on 03 February 2014 02:00 PM
Labour's shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, is to reveal that a hundred thousand extra patients were diagnosed with cold-related illnesses at A&E last year.
Speaking in a State of the NHS address in Birmingham, he will lay the blame solely at the door of the Government for its failure to rein in energy bills nationwide.
There were reportedly around 109,000 more emergency admissions made across hospitals in England during 2012/13, where circulatory or respiratory diseases were identified as the primary diagnoses.
A&E ‘is now in danger of being overwhelmed'
This is a 10% increase on 2009/10 - the year before the coalition came to power and a series of wide-sweeping NHS reforms were put in motion.
Older people are particularly vulnerable to the cold weather, especially if they are already suffering from an illness.
'The Government has allowed A&E to come under siege from all sides to the point where it is now in danger of being overwhelmed,' Mr Burnham will say.
'A&E today is becoming the last resort for millions of people who are struggling to cope with the cost-of-living crisis and cuts to community services.
'This explains why the current financial year is set to be the worst in A&E for at least a decade.
NHS trapped ‘in a vicious circle'
'Severe cuts to NHS community services, mental health and social care are pushing people needlessly to A&E which in turn needs even more staff to cope.
'This short-sighted approach has trapped the NHS in a vicious circle, with hospitals paying huge sums to staff agencies for short-term A&E cover.'
His speech will reiterate Labour's belief that the Government is overseeing a cost-of-living crisis, compounded by its failure to stand up to the energy companies.
Heating costs contributed to rise in hospital admissions
It will also touch upon top-down reorganisation of the NHS - something that Labour claims has left hospitals weakened.
Together with soaring heating costs, the party believes it has contributed to the rise in respiratory and circulatory A&E admissions since 2010.
Labour's analysis shows that 1,176,353 people went to A&E with circulatory and respiratory problems in 2012/13, up from 1,067,134 in 2009/10 - a difference of 109,219.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics, meanwhile, reveal that an estimated 31,100 excess winter deaths occurred in England and Wales in 2012/13 - up 29% compared with the previous winter.
Copyright Press Association 2014