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Flaws exposed in NHS winter planning

The NHS must improve the way it deals with the increased demand for hospital care in winter months, director general of NHS finance, performance and operations David Flory has said.

Mr Flory said in the quarterly update on performance that he was “disappointed” that the NHS as a whole had missed its target to see 98 per cent of patients in accident and emergency departments within four hours.

He said: “We have had one of the coldest winters for over a decade, placing greater demand on services. Ambulance services experience elevated demand in winter and it is critical that the NHS maintains high levels of service and ensure the timely handover of patient care from ambulance to hospital.”

Mr Flory told HSJ that he expected most hospitals to recover their position over the remaining months of the year and so, overall, the NHS would still meet the 98 per cent target for the full year. However, he underlined the importance of better winter planning.

The forecast surplus remains £1.74bn, with only seven organisations forecasting real terms deficits – down from 11 in September.