The Medicine Needed for the Emergency Care Service

17 August 2016
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the Royal College of Nursing today launch their report: The Medicine needed for the Emergency Care Service.

The pressure on the Emergency Care Service continues unabated and the service is at a crisis point.  Growth in patient numbers is outpacing growth in the workforce and so the system has insufficient emergency physicians and emergency nurses. Crowded and chaotic departments are dangerous for patients and demoralising for staff.

A crisis summit was held between the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the Royal College of Nursing to work together to develop some key recommendations to tackle the situation facing emergency medicine. These recommendations comprise ‘the medicine’ needed for emergency care:

1. Education and Training: there needs to be (i) a commitment for both educational funding and provision of training time and (ii) an effective and realistic workforce planning strategy.
2. The A&E hub: A&E should become a hub not a department.  Within this hub the emergency department would be one, albeit key component.
3. A new culture needs to accompany the Five year Forward View: the wider hospital system and the professionals working within it need to collaborate more deeply to support their patients.

President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Clifford Mann said: “The need for an effective strategy to increase the nursing and medical workforce to meet the demands on the emergency care service is now urgent. Exhortations for hospitals simply to increase the number of emergency physicians and nurses working in A&E are doomed to fail when there simply aren’t enough doctors and emergency nurses to go round.  The recommendations from the crisis summit are fundamental to providing effective patient care and must be implemented.”

Janet Davies, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN said: “The pressures on emergency departments are no longer just a feature of the winter, they are present all year round. 

“Despite the best efforts and dedication of the staff, these pressures are affecting all patients accessing emergency care.

“These problems cannot be solved overnight, and will require a system-wide approach to reduce the blockages which so often add to the pressures on A&E.

“The time for action is now. The RCN and RCEM have developed these practical recommendations to sustain the emergency care service. There can be no excuse to ignore this situation any longer. Patients deserve better.”