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Make emergency care part of ‘A&E hubs’ to ease pressures, urge experts

Offer patients access to GPs, pharmacists, nurse specialists and geriatricians

Caroline White

Monday, 22 August 2016

Emergency care departments should become part of ‘A&E hubs’, offering patients access to a broad range of relevant staff, including GPs, concludes a joint report published by the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

The Medicine Needed for the Emergency Care Service draws on the consensus reached among experts from both colleges at a crisis summit held earlier this year.

The summit was convened to try and find solutions to the mismatch between increasing patient demand and insufficient supply of emergency care clinicians, which delegates agreed, results in crowded and chaotic facilities that are dangerous for patients and demoralising for staff.

The ensuing report suggests that pressures would be eased if three key changes were made.

These include incorporating emergency care departments into A&E hubs where patients would have access to a range of staff, including GPs, pharmacists, specially trained nurses and geriatricians.

Better education and training for staff is essential, says the report. This means a commitment for both educational funding and provision of training time in tandem with an effective and realistic workforce planning strategy.

And thirdly, there needs to be a new culture of collaboration to support the Five Year Forward View, with professionals within the wider hospital system working more closely together to support patients, it says.

President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Clifford Mann said: “The need for an effective strategy to increase the nursing and medical workforce to meet the demands on the emergency care service is now urgent.

“Exhortations for hospitals simply to increase the number of emergency physicians and nurses working in A&E are doomed to fail when there simply aren’t enough doctors and emergency nurses to go round. The recommendations from the crisis summit are fundamental to providing effective patient care and must be implemented.”

Janet Davies, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN said: “The pressures on emergency departments are no longer just a feature of the winter, they are present all year round. Despite the best efforts and dedication of staff, these pressures are affecting all patients accessing emergency care.”

She continued: “These problems cannot be solved overnight, and will require a system-wide approach to reduce the blockages which so often add to the pressures on A&E.

The time for action is now. “There can be no excuse to ignore this situation any longer. Patients deserve better.”

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