Health service in Shropshire faces 'system failure' this winter, according to NHS England

Shropshire's health service is at risk of a "system failure" this winter which could see A&E departments closed.

The county is one of ten regions NHS England has flagged for concern due to lengthy ambulance handover delays. A system failure would mean a collapse in social care capacity that leaves hospitals unable to admit or discharge patients, leading to A&E departments being overwhelmed and even having to close temporarily.

Other areas at risk are Birmingham, Worcester, Stoke-on-Trent, Leicester, Cornwall, Plymouth, Peterborough, Norfolk and Waveney and Gloucester.

Shropshire Defend Our NHS campaigner Gill George said a system failure in the county would be "entirely predictable", and that the NHS is "grotesquely underfunded".

"This is an area that has been struggling for a long time. There are no easy solutions, but what is needed very urgently is investment in social care to help hospitals discharge patients and free up beds."

NHS England has instructed local areas to provide two-hour community response services to try and prevent vulnerable people being admitted to A&E departments.

A health service spokesman said: “The NHS saw record numbers of patients at major A&E departments last year and the highest ever number of the most serious ambulance call-outs this summer, and with the service likely to face another busy winter, it’s right we provide increased support and monitoring to those services which are under the most pressure.

“This comes in addition to our already announced plans to increase number of hospital beds and call handlers, so it remains vitally important that people continue to come forward for care when they need it in the usual way by using 111 online or by calling 999 in life-threatening cases."

London Ambulance Service is piloting a scheme where three response vehicles with a paramedic and a nurse will cover three boroughs, responding to 999 calls to elderly people who have had falls. If successful, it could be rolled out elsewhere.

Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care System has been approached for a comment. West Midlands Ambulance Service declined to comment.

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