The Accident and Emergency Care System in England is made up of 140 A&E units which is currently experiencing intense, growing and unsustainable pressure. NHS England wants to improve this system so patients get safe and effective care whenever they need it.
Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s medical director is of the view that our A&E service has become a victim of its own success. He said the truth is that not all A&E departments are of the quality they were in the 1970s. He said it was an illusion to suppose all hospitals were as good as each other or equally effective.
At the beginning of this week it was announced that despite popularity 53 of the 230 walk-in centres have shut down in the last three years. According to research by Monitor, the health service regulator, one in five patients using a walk-in centre said if the service was not available they would have visited the nearest accident and emergency unit, raising the prospect that the closures will increase pressure on already stretched hospital emergency services.
In the House of Commons on Tuesday this week, Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, demanded that Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, stop the closure of NHS walk-in centres, saying services such as these were the best way to ease the pressure on A&E departments.
Sir Bruce Keogh said it was absolutely necessary to rethink under-pressure A&E services because too many people turn up there who do not need emergency care. While 40% leave without any treatment, frail and elderly people end up waiting for hours and sometimes could have been better cared for at home.
Already changes have commenced which include established specialist centres to deal with critical conditions such as heart attacks and strokes forming a two-tier service.
There are proposals that about 40 to 70 of the 140 A&E units will become “major emergency centres”, where the seriously sick and injured are taken by ambulance for hi-tech treatment for heart attacks, stroke and trauma. The 70 to 100 remaining A&E units will become ordinary emergency centres. As they are decongested, they will have more capacity to cope with problems requiring less specialised care.
Sir Bruce Keogh said: “My pledge is that the public build to ensure we get this right will continue and I want you, our patients, to continue to send us your views, your ideas and your suggestions”.
Click the following link to go to Sir Bruce Keogh’s Urgent Care Blog where you can read the latest blog posts and leave your comments:
Please click here to read about one of our clients who was sent home from A&E without a vital MRI scan which caused a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of Cauda Equina syndrome.