Red Cross steps into help NHS cope with 'humanitarian crisis'

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The Red Cross has stepped in to help the NHS in England cope with winter pressures, warning of a "humanitarian crisis ".

The charity said volunteers and staff were helping to get people home from hospital and free up desperately-needed beds.

But British Red Cross chief executive Mike Adamson said extra cash was needed for health and social care to make the system sustainable.

The charity has already provided support to staff at the East Midlands Ambulance Service across Nottingham, Leicester, Lincoln, Kettering and Northampton.

It has also boosted existing services offering support at home to help alleviate pressure on hospitals.

Mr Adamson said: "The British Red Cross is on the front line, responding to the humanitarian crisis in our hospital and ambulance services across the country.

"We have been called in to support the NHS and help get people home from hospital and free up much needed beds.

"This means deploying our team of emergency volunteers and even calling on our partner Land Rover to lend vehicles to transport patients and get the system moving."

Highlighting the need to improve social care, he said: "No one chooses to stay in hospital unless they have to, but we see first-hand what happens when people are sent home without appropriate and adequate care.

"We've seen people sent home without clothes, some suffer falls and are not found for days, while others are not washed because there is no carer there to help them.

"If people don't receive the care they need and deserve, they will simply end up returning to A&E, and the cycle begins again."

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "The Red Cross being called in to help in our hospitals is just the latest staggering example of how the NHS is now being pushed to breaking point.

"For the Red Cross to brand the situation a 'humanitarian crisis' should be a badge of shame for government ministers."

He added: "The stark reality is the NHS is facing a crisis this winter and in need of urgent help from ministers. It's time Theresa May urgently faced up to her responsibilities and abandoned her policy of systematically underfunding our NHS."