Red Cross chief stands by NHS “humanitarian crisis” remarks

Hospital ward

Head of Red Cross defends statement that the NHS in England is facing a humanitarian crisis 

10th January 2017 by Robert Armour 4 Comments

A charity chief who said the NHS was in the midst of a humanitarian crisis has defended his statement after the prime minister rejected the suggestion.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, last week said the increase in demand for his organisation’s services especially in A&E units across the NHS meant patients were not getting the care they deserved or required.  

He said he had a duty to expose failings in the health and social care services and would be remiss if he did not do so. 

Adamson blamed the lack of investment in care services for adults, cuts to funding, and increased demand. The net result was that too many people were either stuck in hospital beds needed for other patients or that they were discharged home without adequate support in place, putting them at risk of re-admission.

He said: “We see people discharged from hospital to chaotic situations at home, falling and not being found for hours, not being washed because there is no carer to help them.

”These are people in crisis and in recent weeks we have started talking about this as a humanitarian crisis. We don't say this lightly and we have a duty to say it.

“We are part of a worldwide humanitarian network and our fundamental principle of humanity states we must help to 'prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found'.

“In considering making this statement, I went back and looked closely at the definition of a humanitarian crisis: It refers to the scale and depth of need facing a population - Mike Adamson

”This humanitarian crisis needs urgent action.

“In considering making this statement, I went back and looked closely at the definition of a humanitarian crisis: It refers to the scale and depth of need facing a population.

”In this case we are seeing large numbers of vulnerable people facing a threat to their health, safety or wellbeing.”

Teresa May said she didn’t agree with how Adamson described the situation the NHS was facing.

“I don’t accept the description the Red Cross has made of this,” she said.

Instead she admitted that health services were facing “significant pressures” as a result of the rise in the numbers of elderly people requiring care.

“We have an ageing population and this brings pressures, particularly in the interface between the health service and social care,” she said.

It was revealed last week that England’s A&E departments had to reject patients more than 140 times in December.

It comes on top of figures that showed a third of health trusts in England had issued alerts that they needed urgent action to cope.

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