15 October 2019
In response to the Care Quality Commission’s report ‘The state of health care and adult social care in England 2018/2019’, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said:
“Emergency Departments (EDs) are intrinsically linked to how well other parts of the system are performing and resourced – perhaps more so than any other service. EDs are the NHS’s ‘canaries in the mine’; pressure in the whole system shows up starkly in Emergency Departments.
“We know that our overstretched Emergency Departments continue to struggle with a lack of resources in the face of – entirely expected – increased demand, but it is concerning to see that many are rated as requiring improvement.
“This timely report from the Care Quality Commission clearly states that many people understandably chose to go to their emergency department when they cannot access other services; for instance, when they cannot get a same-day GP appointment.
“As well as more patients coming to EDs due to a lack of accessible alternatives, there are fewer and fewer staffed beds in hospitals to admit sick patients to, which results in long waits for patients and overcrowded emergency departments. It is little wonder then that just over half of urgent and emergency services are rated as needing to improve.
“As a College we are concerned about patients spending too long on trolleys because they cannot access the right bed. This is our number one safety concern going into this winter and this report is timely in that it shows how challenged we are in Emergency Medicine.
“A crowded department stops being effective and can become unsafe. Patient experience deteriorates and it is deeply stressful for staffing adding to the existing workforce crisis especially among nurses.
“On a more positive note it is pleasing to see that some improvements have been made at NHS acute hospitals in terms of safety in the last year.
“But with over 100,000 vacancies across the NHS, too few beds, and a crisis in social care, what this report really shows is that difficulties in A&E are reflective of failures in the wider system.”