More than 200 people who died last week in England are estimated to have been affected by problems with urgent and emergency care, according to the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.
Dr Adrian Boyle, who is also a consultant in emergency medicine, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that a failure to address problems discharging patients to social care was a “massive own goal”.
Ambulances had become “wards on wheels” while patients waited to get hospital treatment, Boyle said, adding that those most at risk “are the people that the ambulance can’t go to because it’s stuck outside the emergency department”.
His comments came as the NHS launched 42 “winter war rooms” across England, designed to use data to respond to pressures on the health system.
When asked about the project, Boyle said it was too early to tell if it was a good idea, adding: “You can paralyse yourself with analysis, it really is actually more simple and about building increased capacity.”
He said the problem was best solved by focusing on hospital discharge and social care. “Fixing this starts at the back door of the hospital and being able to use our beds properly,” he said.
“At the moment, there are 13,000 people waiting in hospitals, about 10% of the bed base, who are waiting to be discharged either to home, with a little bit more support, or to a care facility. And that’s just a massive own goal. We just need to reform the interface between acute hospitals and social care.”
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Source: The Guardian, 1 December 2022