The Royal College of Emergency Medicine is extremely disappointed by the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
We, along with other parties, have repeatedly highlighted the need for extra funding for social care – in addition to better funding for Emergency Medicine – in order to tackle the growing pressures on staff in emergency departments (EDs). This has been ignored.
It is evident that the cuts made to social care have had a hugely detrimental effect on our EDs and the patients they serve.
A lack of social care packages for patients who are medically fit to leave hospital means that they are kept waiting to get back to where they really want to be – their own home. This results in a hospital bed being unavailable for patients with acute medical needs.
In turn, this has a knock on effect on the Emergency Department, with greater delays, ambulances queuing to transfer patients, increased pressure on staff and untold misery for patients.
This against the backdrop of an ever decreasing number of beds available, with Sustainability and Transformation Plans looking to cut them further still, all in a desperate effort to find implausible “efficiencies”.
Social care has been cut extensively over the past five years. Restoring some of its budget would not only help the vulnerable and their families this Christmas, but go some way to alleviating the dire predicament emergency medicine finds itself in.
We are yet to fully feel the impacts of the winter season but already our EDs are under greater pressure than the same period last year.
Offering only rhetoric instead of appropriate funding will do nothing to fix the problems facing emergency departments – or social care – this winter, and will be scant consolation for the families of patients whose lives are being put at risk.