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Reducing high bed occupancy figures ‘critically important’ for future of Emergency Care, says RCEM 

Thursday 28 March 2024 

This is the response from The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) following the release of new NHS Planning Guidance.  

The guidance, released yesterday – Wednesday 27 March, sets a number of objectives including reducing both A&E waiting times and ambulance response times.  

The document also outlines a target for A&E staff of  a minimum of 78% of patients being seen within four hours. 

RCEM has described a previous target of 76% as “unambitious” and warned that it could divert efforts onto the least ill. 

The guidance also details an incentive scheme for major A&E departments that “achieve the greatest level of improvement” and/or are able to see 80% of patients within four hours.  

Dr Adrian Boyle, President of RCEM said: “Small percentage improvements in four-hour access performance are difficult to endorse when there are so many people waiting for 12 hours or longer. 

“We don’t think the Capital Incentive Scheme is a cost-effective way to improve matters and is potentially divisive. We would prefer a quarterly approach to incentivise improved performance, perhaps using the Commissioning Quality Incentive payment system. 

“The assertion that the increased beds must be kept open is welcomed. It is critically important to reduce the dangerous occupancy levels we are currently seeing.  

“We also welcome the aspiration to provide Same Day Emergency Care services seven days a week, 12 hours a day. 

“Ultimately, patients and Emergency Care staff deserve better than what they are experiencing currently, and things must improve.” 

RCEM continues to urge those in Government to support its manifesto to #ResuscitateEmergencyCare.

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