Headlines: September 7th, 2000

A new set of improvement specialists is to be despatched around the country to try to pre-empt a winter crisis for the NHS. Forty areas described as ‘key communities’ are to be visited by a Winter Emergency Services Team (WEST) who will look at all issues of health provision from immunisation through to after-care and social services.Then, along with the National Patient’s Access Team (NPAT), they will offer advice and support to local agencies and cascade good practice across the service. Winter planning was generally seen to fend off the worst of the pressures brought on by severe weather last year, and the Government has now invested around 630 million pounds to avoid instances of hospitals unable to cope. The idea has been to direct money towards those winter measures seen to have worked well, including a cash boost for critical care beds, extra money for step down care, a major flu immunisation campaign and information campaigns to encourage the public to protect their health and use NHS services appropriately.