The Royal College of Emergency Medicine is calling on patients to write to their Member of Parliament asking for action to address the serious challenges facing Emergency Departments across the country.
The unprecedented move comes after data released today showed the worst ever four-hour emergency care performance at just 76.9% at major emergency departments. Sitrep data also showed that in February bed occupancy was at 95.1%.
Dr Taj Hassan, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:
Unfortunately these figures are not surprising and reflect the acute and detrimental effect insufficient resources are having on our health service; patient care will continue to suffer until this changes.
Performance that once would have been regarded as utterly unacceptable has now become normal and things are seemingly only getting worse for patients. It’s important to remember that while performance issues are more pronounced during the winter, Emergency Departments are now struggling all year round.
Warnings and pleas for adequate resourcing have repeatedly failed to deliver with both patients and staff suffering as a result. We cannot continue in this situation - which is why we are calling on patients to contact their MP in support of our A&Es and the NHS.
Let’s be very clear. The current crisis in our Emergency Departments and in the wider NHS is not the fault of patients. It is not because staff aren’t working hard enough, not because of the actions of individual trusts, not because of the weather or norovirus, not purely because of influenza, immigration or inefficiencies and not because performance targets are unfeasible. The current crisis was wholly predictable and is due to a failure to prioritize the need to increase healthcare funding on an urgent basis.
We need an adequate number of hospital beds, more resources for social care and to fund our staffing strategies that we have previously agreed in order to deliver decent basic dignified care. We would urge our patients to contact their MP to tell them so. We hope that action from patients will ensure that our politicians give the NHS the due care and attention it needs and help them come together to find appropriate long-term solutions for the NHS that are so desperately required.
Mr Derek Prentice, the College’s lead patient representative and Lay Committee Chair, said:
Yet again patients have had to endure another winter of misery due to inadequate resourcing. Understandably public satisfaction with the health service has fallen. But patients are not blaming individual trusts or staff. They quite rightly understand that this is the fault of our politicians, which is why we are asking for their help to change the situation.
While the recent budget allocated extra funds to the health service, it was not what was made very clear would be required and was just about enough to stave off complete collapse. Just about enough should not be good enough. Our patients, staff and the NHS – now in its 70th year – deserve better. We need long term solutions, including more beds and more staff, and we would encourage patients to ask their MPs for them.
Ministers and decision makers must stop burying their heads in the sand and face the reality of the situation; overall performance is in decline due to the under-resourcing of health and social care. The data shows the reality, yet facts are being disregarded and the health sector is not being listened to. We hope that they will listen to the public who voted for them.