Commenting on news today that A&E waiting times have been found to be at the worst level for 9 years, Gail Beer, Director of Operations at 2020health says:
“The first thing to remember is that A&E waiting times have been missed by only 1%. This means that actually the vast majority of people are being seen within the necessary time.
Secondly, there are a number of people who attend A&E for inappropriate reasons. So if we could understand why these people are attending A&E and work towards finding alternative solutions for them, this could quite considerably ease pressure on A&E units.
We need to take a much more holistic approach to understanding the rising demand of attendances for A&E. The causes identified poor patient and practice management by GPs, an increase in complex elderly patients, unresponsive social services and people who get drunk are self-evident.
We now need to find the solutions instead of looking to blame changes in GP contracts or the new 111 service. We should be asking whether everyone who presents at A&E needs to be there. Clearly those that are there from being drunk should be aware of the repercussions of their actions and taking more responsibility. We also need to ensure education programmes are in place to support people in self caring and avoiding unnecessary visits to A&E.
If we’re going to solve this problem, we need a fundamental review of what A&E really means in this country as what we think it should be used for.”
Julia Manning, Chief Executive, 2020health says
“We’ve seen recent concern in the press over the problems caused by the new 111 service and a rise in people being sent to A&E because of this. But we should be positive that this is a minor blip and the service will settle down. We saw the same problem when NHS Direct was first introduced.
This should not act as a distraction to the long term problem of rising attendance to A&E. We need to understand why there is rising demand to A&E, instead of seeing more money and more staff as the solution.
Concern over A&E has been turned into a political issue which is not allowing us to make the real changes that are needed. The politicisation of this problem is skewing clinical care and priorities and we need to take the politics out of this problem and address the real issues.”