With 96 per cent of patients being seen and treated quickly in NHS A&E departments, this country's emergency departments are becoming the envy of the world, according to a British Government Report.
Speaking at a special No.10 breakfast reception for frontline NHS staff from all over the country, Sir George Alberti said:
“At the beginning of last year, almost a quarter of patients spent more than four hours in A&E. Now, it is less than one in 20 patients. In just over two months, it is set to be just one in 50 or less. The A&E target was groundbreaking and more ambitious than any international equivalent. The NHS has transformed its emergency care performances so that it is now the envy of the world.
"Two years ago, a Commonwealth Institute report on emergency care included England as one of the countries in which waiting was a fundamental challenge – together with the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. This year, at the 10th International Conference on Emergency Medicine, long waits were highlighted as a continuing issue around the world. By contrast the NHS in England was hailed as an exemplary success.
"New investment has led to more doctors and nurses than ever before, ensuring people have swifter access to medical advice, swifter access to hospital beds, and swifter access to specialist services such as mental health."
John Reid said:
"This report shows that 19 out of 20 people are seen, diagnosed and treated within four hours in A&E. They can now get the right treatment wherever and whenever they need - be it at a walk-in-centre, minor injury unit or A&E department.
"We are not complacent about these sustained improvements in emergency care and recognise that more work is needed to provide even better and quicker services for patients.
"Traditionally winter is the season when the NHS is under the greatest pressure. There is an increase in respiratory ailments, flu and accidents due to the bad weather. This can lead to a rise in hospital admissions, especially among older people. We mustn’t take our eye off the ball if we are to continue to improve services in emergency care.
Following patients calling for a drive to eliminate long waits in A&E, Transforming Emergency Care describes a revolution in the delivery of emergency care for people in this country. Main findings include:
- despite continuing high demand for emergency services, people are receiving faster, quicker, personalised treatment and are more satisfied with their experience of A&E;
- more doctors and nurses now work in emergency care and there has been a significant development in skill mix with nurses, paramedics and allied health professionals expanding their roles;
- the whole health and social care system is working together in new and better ways, such as ambulance trusts and A&E departments, leading to emergency care being the envy of most of the world; and
- the NHS is moving towards providing a seamless service for patients, by bringing together services provided in the community and in local hospitals.
Commenting on the current situation in NHS emergency care, Martin Shalley, President of the British Association of Emergency Medicine, said:
"The increasing importance of emergency care to the health service has led to the setting of targets, which have focused clinicians’ and managers’ minds. This has led to improvements in staff morale and great improvements in the throughput of patients in emergency departments."
Alistair McGowan, President of the Faculty of Accident and Emergency Medicine, added,
"The lot of the patient in the Emergency Department has improved greatly as a consequence of the recent focus on access to patient care"
Lynda Holt, Chair of the Royal College of Nursing Emergency Care Association said:
"The four hour target has made us look at how we work, and at who does what. For nurses, and many other health professionals, it has been a catalyst for role development and greater clinical freedom to use our expertise more fully. This has had a number of benefits. For patients it means quicker access to someone who can make decisions, and, in many cases, manage all their care needs. "
On a recent visit to study the modernisation of emergency care in England, Professor David Ben-Tovim, Director, Clinical Governance and Clinical Epidemiology at Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide, Australia said:
"I cannot overstate the importance of what our small group from Australia gained during our visit to you. It was a rare privilege to realise that we had seen a new paradigm for healthcare in action. It is no exaggeration to say that we left seeing the healthcare world through new eyes."
Professor Christopher Baggoley, the Chairman of National Institute of Clinical Studies in Australia, added:
"The timeliness of care in English emergency departments is becoming the envy of the world"