The latest figures for A&E performance, for March 2016, show that attendance at A&E departments shows no signs of lessening.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said that the overall figures may reflect a system near crisis point, but they should also be seen as evidence of the heroic efforts of A&E staff, who face unrelenting and unremitting pressure yet continue to deliver remarkable care to ill and injured patients.
Dr Cliff Mann president of the college commented:
“For too long emergency medicine has been treated as a Cinderella specialty. Unfortunately Cinderella is not going to the ball, she is resigning and seeking work elsewhere. Unless there is immediate action to address the epidemic of rota gaps patient care will be compromised and the current situation will deteriorate further.”
Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals trust and the Clinical Commissioning Groups claim that closing one A&E and centralising A&E services in a single Emergency Centre will solve the problem of A&E doctors’ rota gaps, because they say that this is caused by the hospitals Trust having two A&Es – one in Calderdale Royal Hospital and one in Hudderfield Royal Infirmary.
But this is a national problem, as the RCEM points out.
The RCEM also says that whilst the NHS 111 service is well intended, it is clearly not relieving pressure on A&E. The College thinks that that although the reported figure of triaged callers that NHS 111 refers to A&E is only 8%, a large proportion of the 63% recommended to primary care are turning up to the ‘front door’ of the NHS – A&E.
Underfunding in primary and social care is undeniably having an impact. This is evident in the 21% year on year increase in delayed transfers of care. Delayed transfer is a significant cause of exit block which we know is fatal to patients.