RCEM Election Manifesto outlines actions for the next government to help A&Es after worst ever performance figures

Posted On: 
14th November 2019

In response to data for October that shows A&E performance at its worst ever level, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has launched its election manifesto that outlines what must be done to repair Emergency Medicine.

Performance against the four-hour standard was at 83.6% at all types of Emergency Department, and just 74.5% at major A&Es.

President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said: “We have reached a new low in terms of hospital performance against Emergency Care standards. The risk is that this is ignored, ignoring the human stories behind the numbers.

“These figures should be a source of shame for politicians of all stripes. Patients have been let down repeatedly by a parliament that has consistently failed to grasp the scale of the problem.

“Our staff are stretched beyond their limits. Staff find themselves running wards in corridors as there are too few beds for the patients needing admission. Areas designated for Same Day Emergency Care are filled with people waiting to be admitted; effectively blocking their ability to deliver ambulatory care. Patients are suffering.

“The worst part of this is that winter is only just beginning. This will almost certainly get worse.

“This election is an opportunity for political parties to commit to do what is necessary in the long term to resolve the chronic problems facing emergency care. Our manifesto shows how.”

Among its recommendations, the RCEM Manifesto calls for:

  • At least an extra 4,000 beds to help maintain flow in Emergency Departments (EDs) and get bed occupancy back to safe levels.
  • Publication of a social care white paper that addresses the £2.3bn shortfall in council social care budgets.
  • Improvement of primary care provision via the expansion of the GP workforce and their hours of availability.
  • Sufficient capital funding to improve outdated buildings and equipment and transform the emergency care system.
  • A clear strategy to address emergency medicine staff shortages, in particular supporting adequate numbers of nurses.

Dr Henderson said: “At its simplest we need more beds, we need more staff, we need more social care. Politicians must make this happen.

“No more excuses. No more distractions. Our next administration must put the health of our country above all else.

Dr Henderson also said that the wider health service must work together to reduce pressure on EDs: “Corridor care is unacceptable; we need collaboration and we are working with other Royal Colleges to find a way to do this.

“While it is entirely legitimate to review NHS targets, the review of standards has led to uncertainty and left trusts wondering where their focus should be.

“We are working with NHSE to ensure that the outcome of the review process is of actual benefit to patients. We are very keen that the review results in it being unacceptable to have patients waiting a long time in the ED for a bed.

“But in the short term Trusts will have to stretch every sinew to find more beds and staff, to ‘rescue A&E performance’. Given the record level of vacancies and the chaos the current pension taxation arrangements have caused, this is a near impossible task.

“Emergency care teams don’t want to be ‘rescued’ – we want to deliver great patient care in an adequately resourced environment.

“We hope that candidates and parties commit to our manifesto actions so that the NHS never again has to go into another winter in such a state.”