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Two-thirds of A&E clinical leads not confident their organisation will safely manage winter pressures, as new briefing shows UEC 10-point recovery plan ‘has failed’

6 July 2022

Emergency Department (ED) leads are not at all confident that their organisation will cope this winter, according to a new snapshot survey from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM).

RCEM surveyed ED clinical leads from across the UK and found:

  • nearly 80% of respondents reported that their hospital had ambulances waiting outside to offload patients every day last week
  • 7 out of ten said that their hospital had had to provide care for patients in corridors every day last week
  • more than a third reported that their longest patient wait in the emergency department in the last week was over 2 days.
  • 77% said that the level of staffing disruption their department was experiencing due to covid was either ‘moderate’ or ‘significant’.

Commenting on the findings, RCEM President, Dr Katherine Henderson said: “This is the height of summer and yet we are seeing a state of affairs that we’d be dismayed by even in the depths of winter.

“One in ten clinical leads reported that some patients are waiting for more than three days for admission. Corridors are full. Ambulances stuck. Patients suffering. This is not what a recovery is supposed to look like.

“What staff are telling us bears out our own analysis of the situation; the Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan has proved to be a sticking plaster which has failed to stick.”

Ahead of a Wednesday’s debate in Parliament on ambulance waits and emergency department care, RCEM has published a briefing and a new blog, assessing the impact of last year’s Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan from NHS England.

Dr Henderson said: “While well intended, the UEC 10-point plan has become a framework that has had nothing hung on it, as our report card shows.

“There has been little action on new metrics. Little increase in same day emergency care provision. Little help for community health teams. Little funding. No timescales. No transparency. No accountability. No improvement. The ‘plan’ has comprehensively failed so far.

“As we look ahead to winter, there are no simple solutions to tackle a situation that has deteriorated significantly over the past decade. One thing the government should do is find ways to increase social care staffing as a matter of urgency, as this is where a lot of our problems lie. This will help us to unblock hospitals and get patients moving through the system again.

“We also urge that the 10-point plan be reviewed to include timelines, targets, and make clear where accountability lies.

“But a new long-term plan – one that pays more than passing lip service to emergency care – along with a fully funded workforce plan, cannot come soon enough.

“Yesterday was the NHS’s 74th birthday. Its continued existence is a remarkable achievement and one that should be celebrated – staff should be particularly proud of themselves for their work over the past few years. But let’s be very clear, it is in ill health and goes into its 75th year in a terrible condition.

“MPs will today debate in parliament the scale of problems in emergency care, and we welcome this recognition. We now need to see policy makers turn this recognition into action to ensure that the wider health service can go into its 76th year in robust health.”


Notes to Editor

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