RCEM welcomes measures for social care and emergency medicine announced in spring budget

8 March 2017

From the perspective of emergency medicine, today’s budget is largely to be welcomed.

Dr Chris Moulton, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said: “We, along with other Colleges, have called for an increase in social care funding and today’s budget delivered £2bn for this purpose over the next three years. While it is unlikely that this will be enough to rescue a failing health and social care system, it will help to improve the safe and timely discharge of patients from hospital and thus free-up much needed beds.  
“However, social care is only part of the problem and this is only a short-term solution; more will need to be done to ensure the longevity of a health service facing the huge challenge of treating an ageing and expanding population. 
“We need more beds and more doctors; this budget does not address these key issues. While an acknowledgement that implementing sustainability and transformation plans will require additional funding is welcome, the plans themselves aim to cut the overall number of beds available – a step in completely the wrong direction.
“RCEM cautiously welcomes the extra £100m to be spent on A&E triage schemes in time for next winter, provided it is used appropriately. For some time, RCEM has called for co-location of urgent care services around major A&E departments and having primary care on site will undoubtedly benefit patients. 
“The College would like to see this as the first step to co-locating more services, including frailty teams and out-of-hours mental health teams, around the A&E department. By creating a hub of services, patients can be swiftly directed to the treatment or service most appropriate for their needs, without the need to travel elsewhere or book another appointment. 
“The devil will be in the details but the money from the budget will hopefully help to ease winter pressures. However, with enormous system pressures all year round, more will be needed to halt the long-term decline in performance that our departments are experiencing and keep our patients safe.”