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Health managers call for an end to ‘sticking plaster solutions’

Report outlines shake-up of emergency services

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 10 March 2014

Emergency services must be redesigned to replace ‘sticking plaster solutions’ with solutions that last into the longer term.

This is the message conveyed in a new report: 'Ripping off the sticking plaster’ published today by the NHS Confederation’s Urgent and Emergency Care Forum.

The report, which is a response to Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of urgent and emergency care, makes recommendations on how Sir Keogh’s ideas can be implemented.

These fall broadly into three categories:

  • Access to urgent and emergency care, in which the Confederation recommends a move towards a ‘clear single point of access for urgent and emergency care, with a consistent triage’.
  • Getting the best from staff, in which staff are ‘empowered to decide whether a patient should be treated in an emergency department or elsewhere’. The Confederation argues that the NHS must improve training and investment in its staff. The report also recommends greater clinical engagement and interaction with NHS 111 in the next phase of its development.
  • Emergency care networks.

Although the report welcomes Sir Bruce Keogh's proposals on the development of emergency care networks, it says NHS England should avoid being prescriptive and must allow local areas the freedom to establish networks suitable for their population needs.

Commenting on the report, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Rob Webster, said: "We know patients will go 'where the lights are on' and instead of blaming patients for going to the wrong place, we need to build a system around patients and to give them the care they need, when they need it."

And he called for more joined-up working.

“Looking at urgent and emergency care in isolation, or just as a hospital problem, without an appreciation or understanding of what is going on across the rest of the NHS and social care will not solve the long-term issues.

"This will require primary care, acute, ambulance, mental health, social care and community services to work together in networks.

"We need to build on the existing good practice which is out there, but change needs to happen, and fast."

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