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RCEM: Together we can ‘fix’ broken healthcare system

Thursday 11 July 2024

It won’t be quick, but we are ready to work with the new government to ‘fix’ broken healthcare system.

This is the response from The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) as the new Labour government announces an ‘independent investigation’ into NHS performance.

In his first speech as Health and Social Care Secretary on Saturday (6 July 2024), Wes Streeting described the NHS as “broken” and has since set his aim of boosting economic growth from within the sector and improving access to primary care such as GPs.

RCEM has today (Thursday 11 July 2024) pledged its support to the new government’s aim of ‘fixing’ the NHS but have warned that “efforts must be targeted to where they are most needed.”

New data released by NHS England today (Thursday 11 July 2024), shows the scale of the task ahead, with almost one in 10 people waiting 12 hours or longer in A&Es in June.

The data also shows in this period hospitals were 93.1% full, far above the level considered “safe” (85%). Difficulties discharging people due to a lack of appropriate social care options also meant a daily average of 12,174 people remained in hospital despite being well enough to go home.

The effects of this backlog can also be seen in the ambulance service. Yesterday (July 10 2024), the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) estimated that more than 32,000 people may have come to harm due to extended ambulance handover delays in May 2024 alone.

Dr Ian Higginson, Vice President of RCEM said: “The Health Secretary was right, the NHS is broken, and the effects are seen nowhere more starkly than in Emergency Departments. RCEM has been clearly articulating the real picture for years, and it is refreshing to see a pragmatic and honest assessment of where we are and the scale of the challenge”

“We are ready to work with the new government and we can help provide solutions. Those working on the front line, and those with expertise in the field, understand what is needed to restore NHS performance and the public’s trust in the health care system.

“For this reason, we welcome today’s announcement for an independent review of NHS performance, it is a step forward for transparency and we will contribute in any way we can.

“The Health Secretary has pledged to fix ‘the front door’ – improving access to GPs, and any improvements in community-based care is positive.

“However, it is only part of the answer to improving patient care as a whole. The Emergency Care system continues to be under huge pressure as is clearly evidenced by the latest performance data. To make a significant improvement bed capacity needs to increase, and the beds that we do have need to be used more effectively. People need to be able to leave hospital as soon as they are well enough and there needs to be appropriate social care support there for them when they do.

“There can be no quick fix in undoing what has been years in the making, but we remain committed to working with the new government to resuscitate Emergency Care and restore public confidence in the NHS.”

Graphical representations of the data can be found here. 

Find the full data set here. 

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