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A&Es are inadequately resourced, MPs agree

Only a third think patient safety is ensured

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 07 March 2017

Only a third (33%) of MPs believe emergency departments have sufficient resources to keep patients safe, a new poll reveals. 

The poll carried out by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, canvassed the views of 92 cross-party MPs, and asked them the following questions:

  • Would you support a transformation fund to help with the retention and recruitment of A&E staff?
  • Do you feel that A&E departments are adequately resourced to ensure patient safety?

Over 60% of MPs said they would support emergency departments receiving more money to help with the retention and recruitment of staff. 

Of Conservative MPs, only half of those polled said they believed emergency departments are currently being adequately resourced, and a significant minority (29%) said they felt A&E departments do not have the resources they need to ensure patient safety. 

Commenting, Dr Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “This is surely now the time for the Government to act. The struggling NHS is currently the number one issue for people in this country and this poll shows a large majority of MPs – across all parties – believe urgent action is needed to address the lack of resources that is threatening patient safety.

“At present staff are struggling with just where to put patients – bed occupancy levels are far higher than the safe limit of 85%. This is unacceptable and is resulting in misery for our patients and added stress for our staff; the need for more beds is clear.”

He added: “But equally important is getting our staffing levels right. We estimate that the NHS in England is short of approximately 2,500 emergency medicine consultants. The increase in attendances in the last five years is equivalent to the workload of 10 extra medium sized departments in England alone.

“Only by providing more staff and improving our retention rate will we approach being able to attain levels that will provide stable, sustainable working patterns for the staff, and provide the best quality service for our patients. This is essential if we are to prevent career burnout in one of the most intense healthcare working environments in the NHS.”

He further described a “correction in funding” as “imperative”. 

The findings also revealed that over one in 10 MPs said they didn’t know whether emergency departments were sufficiently resourced to ensure patient safety, with nearly 20% of Conservative MPs saying they didn’t know.

Dr Hassan said: “At a time when some local departments are fighting for their future in the face of sustainability and transformation plans, it is particularly worrying that one in 10 MPs seemingly don’t know if emergency departments are resourced well enough to ensure patient safety.

“We would urgently encourage all MPs to fully get to grips with the sustainability and transformation plans and to speak to local clinicians and senior managers. Only then will they be able to help ensure the safety and improve the health of patients in their constituencies.”

The poll, was performed by Dods Research in late November and early December 2016. 

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