Dr Blogs

“Our Emergency Departments are not just under pressure, but in a state of emergency”

Recent figures on A&E performance bear out the repeated warnings of the College and others, and make it clear that patients are suffering due to inadequate planning and resourcing.

December saw the worst ever four-hour performance at our major departments at just 77.3%. In the first week of January bed occupancy stood at 95% – a danger to patient safety, with around 7,000 fewer beds open than in the same period last year.

Our emergency departments are not just under pressure, but in a state of emergency.

This is not just business as usual and these figures make clear the scale of the situation.

In the last week we’ve seen images of patients laying on floors while they wait to be seen or treated – patients deserve better than this.

The frustrations of our overstretched staff are plain to see; with a large group of emergency department clinical leads pushed to the point of writing to the Prime Minister to ask for action. The sentiments and solutions within the letter are echoed by the College.

Things have deteriorated further from last year and the plan has not worked.

Urgent action is now required from NHS England and the National Emergency Pressures Panel – a panel the College is not part of – and we have made recommendations to them that should provide stability and safety in the short term.

However, in the medium term, we are going to need investment in staffing, beds and social care to rescue a system that’s on its knees.

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