11 May 2021
Responding to the government’s agenda for health, as laid out in the Queen’s speech, Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:
“We welcome the government’s focus on health and national recovery, and keenly await further details. The protection of health is of the utmost importance, especially as the health service begins to return to normal levels of activity, with increased demand for emergency care and the growing waiting lists of elective care.
“We welcome the promise of additional funding for this phase. The College has set out our priorities in Summer to Recover: Winter Proofing the Urgent and Emergency Care system for 2021, which makes clear that our Emergency Departments must be prepared – and adequately resourced – for this increase in demand, particularly as lockdown restrictions are eased and as we begin to approach Winter.
“The health system is interconnected, social care, primary care, elective care, all have an impact on Emergency Medicine and Emergency Departments (EDs). EDs must be able to cope with increased demand from patients across the health service, we saw how a lack of resources and capacity impacted us going into the pandemic.
“Without enough resources and capacity in EDs, an increase in demand for urgent and emergency care could derail elective recovery and further delay operations, which could pose a risk to patient safety. It is vital that the government allocates sufficient funding to prepare the Urgent and Emergency Care system for what could be a challenging time ahead.
“The government is also proposing sweeping changes to the structure of the NHS, but we are frustrated that a workforce plan is yet to be laid out. Without filling in the significant gaps in staffing, any reorganisation risks being undermined. The health service and Emergency Medicine are facing a staffing crisis and a potential exodus following the pandemic. Medical places must be increased, training places must be increased, more staff need to be recruited into the workforce and importantly, work must be done to retain the staff we do have.”
Notes to Editor