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Health organisations urge lessons must be learned from 2022 emergency care crisis in new joint report

21 November 2023

New joint report by leading health organisations highlights that lessons must be learned from the emergency care crisis in 2022, concluding ‘too many patients are in the wrong place for their needs’.

The report, Right Place, Right Care: Learning the Lessons from the UK Crisis in Urgent and Emergency Care in 2022, published by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine today (21 November) provides cases studies and analysis of last year’s crisis in Emergency Care.

It was compiled by RCEM and includes contributions from 16 other leading health care organisations including eight other Royal Medical Colleges, The British Geriatrics Society, The Society for Acute Medicine and the charity Diabetes UK.

The report makes a series of recommendations, including:

  • Developing and promoting strategies to improve the retention of healthcare workers.
  • Reducing the bed occupancy of acute and psychiatric hospitals to 85%.
  • Increasing the number of staffed beds in appropriate specialties.

The recommendations are aimed the next government to enable it to work with the health service to improve care with the principles of rebuilding public confidence, improving accountability, seeking innovation and moving away from short-term initiatives and funding streams.

Dr Adrian Boyle, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:

“Last year was a ‘ground zero’ moment for emergency care. Too many patients waited for too long in overcrowded A&Es up and down the country. 24 hours in A&E became everyday reality, and little has improved since.

“As a group of experts we were committed to learning the lessons from this incredibly challenging time. Which is why we have written this report.

“It contains expert analysis as well as deeply moving patient testimonies and we at RCEM are deeply grateful to everyone from the organisations and specialties who have contributed their time and expertise to help make this such a comprehensive report.

“Compiling it has been a sobering experience and it brings into sharp focus many of the serious issues facing the health service. But these problems are not insurmountable, but they require political will, decisive leadership and long-term planning and investment.

“We are heading into what will likely be another extremely challenging winter. Our recommendations are clear and should be actioned. It is time for meaningful change.”

Dr Camilla Kingdon, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

“Child health is in a crisis, and we can see it first hand in our paediatric emergency care. Health professionals are seeing a significant increase in footfall, long waiting times, non-urgent attendances, difficulties in accessing primary care, and a concerning rise in acute mental health cases.

“Last winter was one of the toughest on record for paediatrics, and with little progress having been made this year it is easy to feel discouraged. But there are clear policy solutions to this problem.

“The joint recommendations within this report are both comprehensive and achievable. We urge politicians and policy makers to act now in order to safeguard our children and our NHS.”

Professor Adam Gordon, President of the British Geriatrics Society, said:

“We welcome this new report from RCEM and we are pleased to have had the opportunity to feed into it. The report is a stark reminder of the challenges facing the NHS and the impact that pressures on the system have on all patients, especially older people.
“We must take action now to ensure that older people presenting to emergency care services this winter have better experiences than last year.”

The full list of contributing organisations is – Association of Paediatric Emergency Medicine, British Geriatrics Society, British Thoracic Society, British Society of Gastroenterology, Centre for Perioperative Care, Diabetes UK, The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, Royal College of Anaesthetists, The Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College Paediatrics and Child Health, The Royal College of Pathologists, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Psychiatrists, The Royal College of Radiologists and The Society for Acute Medicine.


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