Only a third of MPs believe that A&E departments are adequately resourced

7 March 2017

A poll by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine reveals just 33% of MPs believe emergency departments have the resources they need to keep patients safe.

The poll of 92 MPs of all parties and regions of the UK also found strong support for a transformation fund for emergency departments with four times as many saying they would support such an initiative as oppose it.

Over 60% of MPs said they would support Emergency Departments (EDs) receiving more money to help with the retention and recruitment of staff.

Despite government claims that the NHS was getting more than the minimum £8bn by 2020 it had asked for, the poll found that only half of Conservative MPs believe that Emergency Departments are currently being adequately resourced.

President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Taj Hassan 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.

“But equally important is getting our staffing levels right. We estimate that the NHS in England is short of approximately 2500 emergency medicine consultants. The increase in attendances in the last 5 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.

“To do this, a correction in funding is imperative for our emergency departments, as well as social care, to provide more staff and more beds. This poll shows, and it is heartening to know, that such a correction would be supported by a majority of MPs.”

Worryingly, the survey also showed that over one in 10 MPs said they didn’t know whether EDs 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.”

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors
The poll, performed by Dods Research in late November and early December 2016 asked MPs:

  • 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?

Response options were ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘don’t know’.

92 MPs of all parties and regions of the UK completed the online survey with results being weighted by Dods Research to accurately reflect current party composition in the House of Commons.