RCEM response to CQC report on Emergency Departments under pressure

24 May 2018

Responding the Care Quality Commission’s report on managing increased demand in Emergency Departments, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Taj Hassan said: “We greatly welcome this report from the Care Quality Commission that fully bears out what our members have been telling us and experiencing directly with increasing frequency. The data confirms that clinical care and safety is increasingly being compromised. Too many of our emergency departments are struggling to cope, and patient care is suffering. 

“The report rightly commends staff for going above and beyond in increasingly difficult circumstances, and the ratings bear out the compassionate care our patients are receiving. But it is also clear from these ratings that patient safety is now either inadequate or needs improvement in almost two thirds of Type I EDs in England. Just 1% of Trusts rated as ‘Outstanding’ in regard to safety. Our own recent clinical audits also reflect a deterioration in overall standards affecting a range of common conditions. 
“The measures to tackle demand are notionally sound but require other wider parts of the system to be engaged. Hospitals must take collective ownership of ED performance and understand that every department has to play their part for these measures to work. However, we would encourage system leaders to concentrate on capacity and output measures rather than focus on the 15-20% of patients that could be better treated elsewhere. 
“We agree with the CQC’s acknowledgement that these recommendations may not address many of the underlying issues. Some should be relatively straightforward for Trusts to put into action and will help improve the experience of patients and staff alike. But many aspects will undoubtedly require an overall increase in resource for the health service. 

“The recommendation of provision of sufficient bed numbers and improving staffing capacity are both key to unlocking the problems of crowding and patient flow that will lead to safer and better care. Both will only realistically be achieved through a significant boost to resourcing; something the College hopes will be addressed by the Government in the months to come.”