Headlines: September 1st, 1998

The Health Secretary has called on council leaders and health service managers
to work together to avoid a crisis in Britain’s hospitals this winter.

The call comes following a new report which shows that cross-sector planning
was the main reason last winter’s surge in patient numbers was managed without
significant impact on hospital performance.

Frank Dobson has distributed instructions to social service departments and to
NHS hospital managers on how to cope with seasonal increases in emergencies, whilst continuing to reduce waiting lists.

Mr Dobson said he expected to see the NHS and social services to work together over the coming months to ensure local arrangements are made to cope with emergency pressures; waiting list targets are achieved; people are properly supported in the community and unnecessary hospital admissions are avoided; A&E departments do not close unilaterally to emergency admissions; financial con trol is maintained.

The Department of Health’s Emergency Services Action Team (ESAT) will be on hand to provide advice to regional health managers on handling winter pressures and to help spread good practice.

A new ESAT report suggests there was much better planning and serious problems were largely avoided during 1997-98.

Dr Chris Bunch, Chairman of ESAT said:”If we have learned one lesson it is the
importance of joint working across health and social services. It is essential
that we build upon this successful collaboration as we prepare for next