Emergency healthcare is a national emergency, says Lords report

A report from a House of Lords Committee says that emergency healthcare is in crisis and that the Government should create a new operating model which takes account of how patients move through the health system. In the short term, the report recommends that the Government set up a special (COBR) committee to address the immediate crisis.

Delays and overcrowding in hospitals are putting patients in danger as demand has risen ‘dramatically’ and the report adds that discharge into community or social care leads to beds is ‘very difficult’ meaning patients remain in beds which cannot then be used for A&E patients.

The House of Lords Public Services Committee launched its inquiry into emergency healthcare in England in September 2022, drawing on a range of oral and written evidence from front line emergency staff and from a range of national organisations and academic institutions.

The committee sought to explore leadership, governance, and regulation in emergency services at both a strategic and frontline level, reflecting on how emergency services can be organised so that the welfare of service users is always at the forefront of decision-making. The report concludes, “We found an emergency service that was fragmented and lacking leadership, with a service model that no longer fits the reality of demand or clinical practice.”

Baroness Armstrong, chair of the committee said, “The problems have been widely discussed and it is time for solutions. The models for community and primary care are broken and a new approach is needed. Our recommendations are for both the immediate, and the longer term and are more relevant than ever.”

The report includes an action plan sets out how the committee thinks that government can address the problems set out in its report. There is a recommendation to boost the number of clinicians in 999 and 111 services; to incentivise faster safe discharges from hospitals to that patients do not get stuck in ambulances and unmet need both before a patient reaches crisis point and following discharge. There is also a focus on performance data that accurately reports on ‘true’ waiting times.


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