Worst-ever emergency care performance figures underscore the need to focus on staffing

Responding to today’s figures showing another decline in emergency care performance, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Taj Hassan said:

Both these figures and the fact that this crisis is going unnoticed while the country is consumed by Brexit is deeply disappointing.

These are the worst performance figures we’ve ever seen and come in the mildest winter for some time. With a long term plan settled and focused mainly on redirection, there a few easy fixes for our Emergency Departments (EDs). Staff continue to work doggedly in difficult conditions and must continue to focus on patient safety.

We absolutely must not lose sight of the people behind these numbers; both patients experiencing undignified conditions, and staff working at the limits of their abilities.

The NHS must focus on filling the 100,000 staff vacancies it currently has, to relieve pressure on staff and ensure those patients most in need are seen, treated and discharged as quickly as possible. More staff – and beds – in other parts of the hospital will help to unclog the system and get things moving again in the ED. We would also urge the government to make the social care green paper a priority.

We fear that these figures will give impetus to move away from meaningful measurement of flow and system performance, which if not managed carefully runs the risk of hiding problems. We look forward to working with NHS England on their new standards of measuring quality to ensure that this does not happen, and that patient safety and care continue to be paramount.”

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