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NHS crisis demands leadership for the safety of patients, RCEM says

21 October 2022

Responding to the Care Quality Commission’s annual State of Care report, Dr Adrian Boyle, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:

“The CQC’s State of Care Report emphatically shows the scale of the crises facing the health service at this time. A crisis in urgent and emergency care, a crisis in social care, a workforce crisis – a whole system rightly described as ‘gridlocked’. While the government faces a crisis of its own, winter is on our doorstep and more patients will come to more harm in the coming months if there is a failure to act. The NHS crisis demands leadership and requires decisions to be made to ensure the safety of patients.

“The Urgent and Emergency care system is failing patients and failing in its core function. Emergency Medicine staff and paramedic colleagues face unthinkable and distressing decisions every day, many are burned out and exhausted, doing all they can to keep patients safe and mitigate harm.

“Patients face long waits for an ambulance to arrive, long waits in Emergency Departments and long waits for a bed. Demand is not driving these long waits. Attendances are not higher than pre-pandemic levels, these long waits are symptomatic of exit block and patients being unable to be discharged from hospital due to lack of social care support.

“The government must urgently bolster the social care workforce to help with the provision of care in the community and with the discharge of patients in a timely way. This is critical to break the ‘gridlock’, free up beds, and get flow throughout the hospital. There must also be clarity around the outgoing Prime Minister Liz Truss’s pledge to not cut public spending – ahead of what will likely be the worst winter on record where we will see performance significantly deteriorate and long waiting times reach dangerous levels – any cuts to a system already struggling to deliver would be devastating.”

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