17 September 2020
Responding to today’s announcement from the Department of Health and Social Care, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said:
“These are welcome actions to improve Urgent and Emergency Care. Funding to renovate and repair our most challenged Emergency Departments is long overdue but is timely and appreciated as we head into an extremely difficult winter. It will also be vital in helping departments enforcing social distancing and working to reduce the spread of infection.
“It is also a helpful step towards addressing crowding in departments – something that puts many lives at risk each year.
“An expansion of NHS 111 will also help reduce hospital crowding. More importantly it will help many patients to be seen more quickly by the service most appropriate to their needs. This will help Emergency Medicine staff to do what they do best and focus on the very sickest patients.
“However, these actions will not make all of our problems go away. Long term we still require more staff and more beds, so today’s announcement is seen a step in the right direction, but more work is needed to overhaul Emergency Care for the better.
“To be truly transformational and improve patient care long term, we need to reconsider how and why we measure Emergency Department performance. We welcome the announcement of a consultation in England on how we do that in a way that is meaningful to both patients and the health system.
“The four-hour target has served us well for many years but has recently been vulnerable to a focus away from the sickest patients. We need a wider set of measures that looks at the whole of the patient journey and drives improvements in clinical practice.
“Crucially any and all new measures must drive a reduction in crowding, focus on the sickest patients and help tackle the longest waits; something that the four-hour target alone no longer achieves.
“With a new set of standards, appropriate alternative services for patients and a physical overhaul of our most dilapidated departments, we have the opportunity to bring Emergency Care in England into the 21st century.”
Notes to Editors
The Clinical Review of Standards only applies to the NHS in England. Devolved nations continue to set their own standards.