Response from Sir Peter Bottomley

January 2018

NHS in Winter

Thank you for contacting me about the pressures facing the NHS this winter.


I share your concern about the number of challenges facing the health service this year. Winter is always a difficult time of year for health services across the world, and I know that this year is no exception.


I hope you are encouraged to hear that the Government has worked closely with the NHS to prepare for winter. Winter preparations began earlier than ever before: in the Spring Budget, the Chancellor pledged £100 million investment to support A&E departments throughout the country; and in December, the Government invested a further £337 million to support the NHS throughout the winter. This money has, amongst other achievements, helped the NHS open over 1,000 more acute hospital beds since the end of November, and install GP streaming services in 91 per cent of A&E departments.


I am happy to say that, despite very challenging circumstances, these preparations have been of great help to the health service, whose staff have offered lifesaving, compassionate care at the hardest time of the year. I would like to echo Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s National Medical Director, and say that this winter has seen some of the best, and most thorough preparations on record.


It is incredibly unfortunate to see NHS England postpone non-urgent operations this January. I understand that this emergency action was taken by the NHS National Emergency Pressures Panel, following sustained pressure on the NHS over Christmas. No urgent, or cancer-related operations have been deferred, and I believe the panel was right to give patients significant notice of deferral, rather than cancelling operations with only a few hours’ notice, as happened in previous years.  


Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.