27 April 2021
Responding to suggestions that an NHS recovery plan is needed to tackle waiting lists, Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:
“The scale of the waiting list is extremely concerning but the Health Service is all connected, and these waiting lists are tied to urgent and emergency care.
“Those who are waiting for treatment frequently present to Emergency Departments with complications or exacerbated symptoms, so it is essential that our Emergency Departments are able to cope with this extra demand and treat these patients.
“Last week we launched our campaign Summer to Recover: Winter-proofing Urgent and Emergency Care for 2021, the recommendations of which must be factored in to any wider NHS recovery plan.
“Ahead of winter there needs to be sufficient funding made available to urgent and emergency care to facilitate an expansion of capacity. There must be a commitment to using metrics that benefit patient care – with transparency of the data – and we must ensure that patients have access to adequate, available, alternative care that is most appropriate for their needs.
“If we fail to prepare our Emergency Departments to meet both community demand and waiting list patients, we will once again face serious pressures come winter and the NHS may be forced to move resources away from elective care, to tackle problems elsewhere.
“So, we cannot view this as an either-or situation; the recovery of elective care is dependent on a healthy emergency care system. Tackling both holistically is the right thing to do and will require careful planning and resourcing.
“The scale of the challenge facing the NHS in recovery effects all parts of the service, so we must work together, collaborating across specialties to find solutions and ways of delivering care. We must do all we can to support our patients and prepare our departments for a surge in demand in the coming months.”
Notes to Editor