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Newsletter: President's Update

Newsletter: President's Update

President’s Update – November 2023

Our thoughts have very much been on international matters and all those affected during the past few weeks as the tensions in the Middle East have once again escalated into horrific violence.

RCEM stands with the IFEM in its stance that medics and patients should be provided with safe havens where treatment and care can be administered and received, and its declaration that these should never, and must never, become a target.

We know many members have personal connections to people affected by this senseless and horrible violence and our thoughts are with all those impacted, and all our EM colleagues doing their best in unimaginably challenging situations to save and care for those who have been injured.

Emergency medicine and conflict have, by necessity, always been inextricably linked and that is as true today as it ever was, whether in the Middle East, Ukraine or elsewhere.

This coexistence is one of the reasons the College has chosen to show its support for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal this year by replacing the rosette on our shield with the poppy until Remembrance Sunday.

Elsewhere, as you will see from the newsletter content, we are unfortunately experiencing a Measles outbreak. For us this means making sure we isolate cases, and remembering that measles is a notifiable disease.

October saw a fantastic conference in Brighton for the South East region, with practical workshops as well as traditional conference content and it was a great way to connect, engage and support each other.

We also celebrated our fantastic Specialty and Specialist colleagues as we marked #SASWeek23 with a range of content much of which was made by members themselves. Catch up with it all in this round up.

EMSAS, our SAS doctors’ forum, is a vital part of the College. The forum is active and vocal in championing and advocating for SAS members.

This month is a key one for EMSAS. They are holding their annual conference in the Isle of Man; the current Chair Steve Black is stepping down and the election for his successor is underway. All SAS forum members should have received information and a voting link from our election partners Civica – if you haven’t get in touch with our membership team.

EMSAS Chair is a key position within the College and I encourage as many of you as possible who are eligible to vote to do so and have your voice counted. Steve has done a great job and my thanks and best wishes – and those of all of us at the College – go to him.

In my last update I told out our manifesto launch #ResuscitateEmergencyCare – and we continued to advocate on your behalf at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool at the start of October.

We hosted a very well attended event with Parkinson’s UK and the British Geriatric Society highlighting the issue of older people in the ED in line with our manifesto ask around equity of care.

We also focused on the long waits which older people have to endure when attending EDs via data which showed that elderly people are twice as likely as other patients to face long A&E waits which was featured in the Telegraph and picked up by other news outlets.

We have also shone a light on the issue of our patients who come to the ED seeking help and support for Mental Health issues with data about the extreme length of waits this cohort face and the comparison to non-MH patients which we shared with Channel Four News with Maya doing a great job of getting our position across.

We have also been focusing on another of our key asks – transparent and meaningful data – which is so important so services have a true and accurate picture of the pressures and demand they are facing.

Our calls for a change in the way that Wales reports its ED performance data led to a bit of a spat with the Welsh Government – which insists there is nothing wrong with not accurately reflecting the length of time patients spend in EDs.

With data we obtained via an FOI request showing that from January to June this year more than 45,000 patients had their waits mis-categorised as being less than four hours when in reality they spent much longer there. This is possible because Wales has a policy called ‘breach exemptions’ which allow for patient clocks to be ‘stopped’ if they will complete their treatment within the ED.

As you will all know – even if the clock has stopped the need for care, attention, space and recourses does not – but none of that is being taken into account. RCEM has been calling ion this policy to be abolished for years and we feel positive progress has been made in raising awareness and support for its scrapping in recent week. So watch this space!

We also are campaigning for hospital-level performance data to be published and worked with the Guardian on this piece explaining why it is so important.

JP Loughrey has also been doing a fine job of advocating north of the border too – highlighting the issue facing Scottish EDs. We released data – again obtained via an FOI – which show that the number of people having to wait 24 hours in Scotland during the first half of this year was 250 times higher than it was in 2019. The piece was run by BBC Scotland and picked up by many other news outlets across the country.

And the team in NI is again working hard to raise awareness the issues facing EDs there as the latest quarterly performance figures are published.

Looking forward, November is shaping up to be another busy month.

As well as the anticipated rise in demand as temperatures fall, there is lots of College activity too.

Next week our collaboration with Parkinson’s UK continues as we kick of our latest QIP – which focuses on Time Critical Medication. Ed Consultant Dr Jonny Acheson – who himself has Parkinsons – has been instrumental in this project and please do check out his video.

And then there is just the small matter of the King’s Speech and Chancellor’s Autumn Statement this month too.

No rest for the wicked – or the EM clinician!

Adrian Boyle, President, Royal College of Emergency Medicine

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