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Found 78 results
  1. News Article
    Senior clinicians say their trust board has caved into political pressure by making an ‘unsafe’ decision to re-open a small emergency department — having previously suggested this would not happen if there was a second wave of coronavirus. In a letter to management at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, seen by HSJ, a group of 17 emergency medicine consultants have raised serious concerns over the planned re-opening of the accident and emergency department at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital next week. The unit, which has long suffered from staffing shortages and temporary closures, was again closed on a temporary basis at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. When covid subsided in the summer, plans were put forward to reopen it in the autumn. However, when announcing this, chief executive Karen Partington said: “It is really important that everybody recognises that if covid-19 cases begin to rise significantly, or other safety concerns are identified, we will need to revisit the situation.” The letter from the clinicians, addressed to trust clinical director Graham Ellis, said: “We consider that the trust has been subjected to an undercurrent of external pressure which has resulted in an unsafe decision being taken to re-open the ED prematurely…" Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 30 October 2020
  2. News Article
    Ambulance chiefs have warned coronavirus precautions in hospital emergency departments are putting patients’ lives at risk because of long delays before patients are being treated. West Midlands Ambulance Service has written a formal warning to three hospitals in the region over the delays to handing over patients from ambulance to hospital staff. In one case, a patient was left waiting with ambulance crews for up to three and a half hours. According to the letter, obtained by the Health Service Journal, the delays are being caused because of tougher infection control measures with ambulance bosses warning the situation is “dangerous”. Director of nursing Mark Docherty said the delays meant ambulances could not be sent to “life threatening emergencies”, and warned: “Lives will be put at risk and patients will come to harm as a result”. He added: “I alerted you to a serious concern about patients being kept on ambulances outside your hospital. Of great concern is the fact that a hospital risk assessment identifies this process as a mitigation to reduce risk in your hospital…" Read full story Source: The Independent, 29 October 2020
  3. News Article
    The government must immediately deliver a new deal for social care with major investment and better terms for workers, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said, as it warned that the sector is “fragile” heading into a second wave of coronavirus infections. In a challenge to ministers, the regulator’s chief executive, Ian Trenholm, said overdue reform of the care sector “needs to happen now – not at some point in the future”. Boris Johnson said in his first speech as prime minister, in July 2019: “We will fix the crisis in social care once and for all.” But no reform has yet been proposed, and more than 15,000 people have died from COVID-19 in England’s care homes. Trenholm said Covid risked turning inequalities in England’s health services from “faultlines into chasms” as the CQC published its annual State of Care report on hospitals, GPs and care services. The report reveals serious problems with mental health, maternity services and emergency care before the pandemic, and says these areas must not be allowed to fall further behind. The regulator argued that the health system’s response to the pandemic needs to change. After focusing on protecting NHS services from being overwhelmed, health leaders must now adapt to prevent people who need help for non-Covid reasons from being left behind, it said. These include people whose operations were cancelled and people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, people with disabilities, and people living in deprived areas who have suffered more severely from the impact of Covid. “Covid is magnifying inequalities across the health and care system – a seismic upheaval which has disproportionately affected some more than others,” said Trenholm. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 16 October 2020
  4. News Article
    An NHS hospital which has faced repeated criticism by regulators for poor standards of care has been fined £4,000 for failing to assess A&E patients quickly enough. The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust has been fined by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after patients were not triaged within 15 mimutes of arrival in A&E – in breach of conditions set by the regulator last year and a national target. The care of emergency patients at the hospital trust, which is also facing an inquiry into poor maternity care, has been a long running concern for the watchdog which has rated the trust inadequate and put it in special measures in 2018. Earlier this year the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, wrote to NHS England warning of a “worsening picture" at the Midlands hospital and demanding action be taken. The CQC said it had issued the fixed penalty notice to the trust because it failed to comply with national clinical guidance that all children and adults must be assessed within 15 minutes of arrival. It also failed to implement a system that ensured all children who left the emergency department without being seen were followed up. After inspections in April 2019 and November 29 the CQC imposed seven conditions on the hospital over emergency care. The regulator said it was now clear the trust had not stuck to the conditions and had breached them both at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital. Professor Baker said: "The trust has not responded satisfactorily to previous enforcement action regarding how quickly patients are assessed upon entering the urgent and emergency department." “We have issued a penalty notice due to the severity of the situation and to ensure the necessary, urgent improvements are made. It is essential that patients are seen in a timely way when they arrive at an emergency department; failure to do so could result in deteriorating health, harm, or even death, which is why national guidelines exist and must be followed." Read full story Source: The Independent, 12 October 2020
  5. News Article
    Almost nine in ten maternity services experienced a decline in emergency pregnancy appointments during the pandemic due to women avoiding healthcare providers amid coronavirus chaos, a study has found. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, who carried out the research, said women refrained from attending appointments due to anxiety around going into a hospital and fears of overwhelming the NHS, as well as not being clear if the appointments were essential. Researchers found 70% of maternity services reported a reduction in antenatal appointments, while 60% of units stopped the option of giving birth at home or in a midwife-led unit. Over half of services said postnatal appointments after childbirth had been reduced. The findings come as maternity services warn staff must not be sent to work in other parts of the hospital in the wake of a second wave of coronavirus. Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives, who together represent the overwhelming bulk of maternity staff, say there must not be a repeat of the acute and widespread maternity staff shortages which played out during the health emergency’s peak. Read full story Source: The Independent, 30 September 2020
  6. News Article
    Emergency departments across England are reporting ‘dangerous’ overcrowding similar to levels seen pre-covid, and struggling to maintain social distancing, A&E leaders have warned. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said it was concerned about covid spreading among the most vulnerable patients, as overall transmission rates continue to rise sharply across the UK. It was always anticipated that A&E activity would return to pre-covid levels this winter, following a significant drop-off in A&E activity during the spring and early summer, and that service transformation would be needed to help maintain social distancing. But the emergence of widespread overcrowding so far ahead of winter is of serious concern to system leaders. A&E staff were already being forced to make difficult trade-offs over which patients to isolate, the college’s vice president told HSJ. He also urged NHS leaders not to place unrealistic expectations on the impact a new model involving walk-in patients booking slots by phone could make on addressing overcrowding in emergency departments. RCEM vice president Adrian Boyle said the NHS was “largely back to the pre-covid levels of crowding” but it was “much more dangerous now because of covid”. He said: “We are hearing that most emergency departments can’t maintain social distancing safely and staff are having to make fairly difficult trade-offs about which people need to be isolated. No one can be safely social distanced in a corridor.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 21 September 2020
  7. News Article
    People requiring A&E will be urged to book an appointment through NHS 111 under a trial in parts of England. The aim is to direct patients to the most clinically-appropriate service and to help reduce pressure on emergency departments as staff battle winter pressures, such as coronavirus and flu. The pilots are live in Cornwall, Portsmouth, Hampshire and Blackpool and have just begun in Warrington. If they are successful, they could be rolled out to all trusts in December. However, people with a life-threatening condition should still call 999. Under the new changes, patients will still be able to seek help at A&E without an appointment, but officials say they are likely to end up waiting longer than those who have gone through 111. More NHS 111 call handlers are being brought in to take on the additional workload, alongside extra clinicians, the Department of Health and Social Care said. A campaign called Help Us Help You will launch later in the year to urge people to use the new service. Read full story Source: BBC News, 17 September 2020
  8. News Article
    Ministers have given the green light for NHS England and Improvement to consult before December on a proposed new basket of metrics to replace the four-hour accident and emergency target. The Department of Health and Social Care announced the move, a significant step towards ditching the target, while confirming another batch of winter capital funding allocations, and confirming a national “111 first” model. The announcement does however mean the process of replacing the four-hour target with new A&E standards will move slower than NHSE/I had outlined this summer. It said in July it wanted the new A&E standards in place before winter, a plan also backed by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine as revealed by HSJ. These moves come amid mounting concern that people unable to get COVID-19 tests are heading to emergency departments; and that some emergency departments are now becoming busy with growing non-covid demand. The proposals for the consultation have not yet been finalised. HSJ understands they will consist of work largely drawn up by NHSE’s clinical review of standards group before March but put on hold when the COVID-19 outbreak hit the UK. Likely choices for the metrics are: time to initial clinical assessment in A&E, time to emergency treatment for critically ill, mean waiting time, and a new 12-hour metric where the clock starts from when the patient arrives at the emergency department rather than at decision to admit as is currently the case. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 17 September 2020
  9. Community Post
    During the COVID pandemic, it was clear that Emergency Departments across the UK needed to adapt and quickly, with my trust not exempt from this. We have increased capacity, increased our nursing and doctors on the shop floor, obviously with nurse in charge being responsible for all areas. We have different admission wards in terms of symptoms that the patient has, but also have a different type of flow, which i am getting my head around to be able to share I have seen departments split into 2 and various other ideas coming out from various trusts. Which got me thinking about patient safety and how well this is managed. So.... How is your department responding to the pandemic? Do you have any patient safety initiatives as a result of the response? Is there a long term plan? The reason why i am asking this, is so we can share practice and identify individual trust responses.
  10. News Article
    Visiting A&E or relatives is considered much riskier than attending hospital for other reasons, according to the first in-depth piece of research into the subject. The research, authored by the University of Leicester and NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre Bioinformatics Hub, asked 400 participants how they felt about attending hospital across a range of scenarios during the pandemic. It also revealed that consistent staff use of PPE is seen as a top priority by patients, with staff testing receiving significant but much less support. Participants in the Leicester research were asked to rank how ”safe and confident” they felt coming into hospital for a number of reasons on a scale 1-100. The median score given to “visiting a friend or family member” was 49. The score for attending accident and emergency was 50. Attendance at A&E’s fell sharply during the pandemic peak. It is now rising, but has not reached pre-covid levels. The research suggests that fear could still be playing a significant part in the drop off. Attending hospital for elective care received a median score of 61. Participants were most confident in visiting hospital for essential surgery (median score 78), and clinical scans or x-ray (77). Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 3 September 2020
  11. Content Article
    Implementation of COVID-19 related safety measures such as social distancing, use of PPE and cleaning were strongly supported by most respondents. There was ambivalence around less certain measures such as regular staff antigen and antibody testing. Respondents were most likely to participate in research related to their own condition, COVID-19 research and vaccine research, but less likely to participate in healthy volunteer research, especially if suffering from a pre-existing comorbidity identified with increased risk or were female. There was general agreement that participants are comfortable with new ways of working, such as remote consultation, though women and BAME respondents were less comfortable. Findings raise concerns for health inequalities already impacting some groups in the pandemic. The role of clinical necessity and personal benefit support the reopening of services in line with clinical necessity. Moderate caution in respect of vaccine research relative to patient-participant research presents a challenge for pending recruitment demands, and would benefit from qualitative research to explore themes and concerns in more depth and support development and targeting of key messaging.
  12. News Article
    Pilots for a new urgent care model requiring walk-in patients to book slots in emergency departments are expected to be rolled out in at least one site in every health system in the coming weeks, HSJ has learned. The move comes amid concerns from trust managers who warned some 111 providers’ systems were too “risk averse” and were sending too many patients who could have been treated in other care settings to hospitals. Local managers believe NHS 111 not directing enough people to alternative services was a cause of a major incident at Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust’s emergency services earlier this month, HSJ understands. And trust leaders in other parts of the country are understood to have similar concerns. Trials of 111 First have already been publicly confirmed at Portsmouth Hospitals Trust, Royal Cornwall Trust, Newcastle Hospitals FT and Blackpool Hospitals FT. HSJ also understands five London sites, one for each integrated care system in the capital, are also running trials. These “early adopter” trusts have been given autonomy to trial different models for “111 First”. Most EDs at these sites still treat “walk-in patients” as normal. But in Portsmouth, patients with minor injuries who turn up at ED without calling ahead have, on three different days, been instead told to call 111 following assessments. NHS England said further trials will take place in the Midlands and East of England, but the specific trusts undertaking these trials have not been decided yet. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 2 September 2020
  13. News Article
    The development of separate emergency units to help acute trusts manage demand during the covid pandemic may risk increasing “discrimination” against mental health patients, a royal college has warned. In a report shared with HSJ, the Royal College of Psychiatrists said separate emergency assessment units being set up by mental health trusts offered a calmer environment for mental health patients and reduced pressure on emergency departments. But the report, based on 54 survey responses from liaison psychiatry teams, also warned there was a “potential to increase the stigmatisation of mental illness by emergency department staff”. It added: “Within a general hospital there is a risk that prejudicial attitudes amongst staff translate into discriminatory behaviour towards patients. The provision of a separate mental health emergency assessment facility on another site may reinforce the erroneous view that the assessment and management of mental health problems is not a role for an emergency department.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 11 August 2020
  14. News Article
    Boris Johnson has said the government will allocate £300m to NHS trusts to upgrade A&E facilities ahead of a potential spike in coronavirus cases this winter. The funding, which will be split between 117 trusts, comes alongside attempts to reassure members of the public that it is safe to visit A&E departments during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Thanks to the hard work and tireless efforts of NHS staff throughout the pandemic, our A&Es have remained open for the public,” the prime minister said in a statement. “It is vital that those who need emergency treatment this winter access it, and for those who remain concerned about visiting hospitals, let me assure you that the NHS has measures in place to keep people safe.” Hospitals will be able to use the funding to expand waiting areas and increase the number of treatment cubicles to boost A&E capacity, while social distancing rules and hygiene measures are in place to protect patients from COVID-19. Read full story Source: The Independent, 10 August 2020
  15. Content Article
    HSJ revealed this month that the ’call before you walk’ model is being trialed in London, Portsmouth and Cornwall, with system leaders keen for a wider roll-out ahead of winter. In these trials, which have received the backing of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, NHS 111 is being used as a “triage point” enabling patients needing urgent treatment, but not facing medical emergencies, to book access to primary care, urgent treatment centres or same-day emergency “hot clinics” staffed by specialists. Emergency patients just walking in, or those arriving via ambulance, will be treated, in theory, as per the current system. Similar models are used in Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands where they have high approval ratings. But these are vastly different healthcare systems with better resourced out of hospital services. So, can the model work in the English NHS? It is critical to view efforts to introduce ‘call before you walk’ in the wider policy context. The move is part of a far wider radical overhaul of emergency care pathways broadly designed to address the dangerous overcrowding seen in EDs in recent years.
  16. News Article
    Trials of new systems to prevent overcrowding in emergency departments ahead of a potential second wave of COVID-19 in the winter are taking place at hospitals in Portsmouth and Cornwall and are due to shortly be expanded to other areas, with Dorset and Newcastle likely sites, HSJ can reveal. London is also experimenting with introducing the system, having pulled back from an earlier proposal to roll it out it rapidly, shortly after the COVID-19 peak. In the trials, NHS 111 has acted as a “triage point” enabling patients not facing medical emergencies but needing urgent treatment to book access to primary care, urgent treatment centres or same-day emergency “hot clinics” staffed by specialists. Patients are discouraged from attending without an appointment, but they are able to do so; and sources said performance targets would continue to apply to them, although these were already subject to review pre-covid. Both the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and NHSE are now hopeful a new triage system for emergency care can be in place by the winter. Read full story (paywalled) Source: 15 July 2020
  17. News Article
    People with non-life threatening illnesses will be told to call before going to Wales' biggest A&E department. Patients will be assessed remotely and given a time slot for the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff if needed. Hospital bosses feel returning to over-crowded waiting rooms would provide an "unacceptable" risk to patients due to coronavirus. The system is set to start at the end of July, but will not apply to people with serious illnesses or injuries. Details are still being discussed by Cardiff and Vale health board, but patients with less serious illnesses or injuries will be told to phone ahead, most likely on the 24-hour number used to contact the local GP out-of-hours service. They will be assessed by a doctor or a nurse and, depending on the severity of the condition, will either be given a time window to go to A&E or be directed to other services. This system was introduced in Denmark several years ago. "This is all about being safe and ensuring that emergency medicine and emergency care is safe and not about putting barriers in place to those more vulnerable people," says the department's lead-doctor Dr Katja Empson. "What we really think is that by using this system, we'll be able to focus our attention on those vulnerable groups when they do present." If successful, the system could become a long-term answer to reducing pressures on emergency medicine, she added. Read full story Source: BBC News, 14 July 2020
  18. News Article
    Far fewer people are having surgery or cancer treatment because COVID-19 has disrupted NHS services so dramatically, and those who do are facing the longest waits on record. NHS figures reveal huge falls in the number of patients who have been going into hospital for a range of vital care in England since the pandemic began in March, prompting fears that their health will have worsened because diseases and conditions went untreated. Patients have been unable to access a wide range of normal care since non-COVID-19 services were suspended in hospitals in March so the NHS could focus on treating the disease. Many patients were also afraid to go into hospital in case they became infected, which contributed to a fall in treatment volumes. Tim Gardner, a senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation thinktank, said: “The dramatic falls in people visiting A&E, urgent referrals for suspected cancer and routine hospital procedures during lockdown are all growing evidence that more people are going without the care they need for serious health conditions." “Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of cancer is crucial to saving lives, and delays in referrals and treatment during the pandemic are likely to mean more people are diagnosed later when their illness is further advanced and harder to treat.” Read full story Source: Guardian, 9 July 2020
  19. News Article
    Delays in going to the emergency department because of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown may have been a contributory factor in the deaths of nine children, a snapshot survey of consultant paediatricians in the UK and Ireland has shown. Three of the reported deaths associated with delayed presentation were due to sepsis, three were due to a new diagnosis of malignancy, in two the cause was not reported, and one was a new diagnosis of metabolic disease. Read full story (paywalled) Source: BMJ, 30 June 2020
  20. News Article
    The chief inspector of hospitals has warned that patient safety is at risk if the NHS winter crisis is worsened by coronavirus – and ministers must act now in emergency departments to prevent a catastrophe. Professor Ted Baker, speaking to The Independent in his first interview since the COVID-19 outbreak hit Britain, warned that the NHS could not carry on as before as hospitals across the country struggle to return to normal care while the crisis continues. “If we are going to do something about it, we need to act now, not at the beginning of winter,” he warned, adding the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was also worried about patients being “forgotten” as NHS waiting lists surge to an expected 10 million later this year. "We will be going into winter and all the difficulties of the winter viruses that we normally face, together with Covid. I think next winter is going to be very difficult, unless emergency departments and the whole system supporting emergency departments do things very differently.” He warned providing care in the NHS under the shadow of coronavirus was “a formidable challenge … probably bigger than the challenge we faced at the height of the pandemic”. Prof Baker also told The Independent that the CQC was investigating a number of reports that some hospital patients were discharged unsafely to care homes following a staggering 55% rise in whistleblowing complaints, particularly in care homes, with 2,612 calls between March and May. Read full story Source: The Independent, 17 June 2020
  21. News Article
    Appointments to be seen in A&E could be introduced permanently in response to coronavirus, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has said. Dr Katherine Henderson said it would cause "enormous harm" to patients if Britain returned to crowded casualty units with "elastic walls". Instead, she said patients should be given a "contact point" such as the NHS 111 line to book a slot in an emergency department, or to be seen directly by a specialist or diverted to the care they need. "The old way of doing things involved emergency departments having elastic walls," Dr Henderson told MPs. "We were able to have an infinite number of patients. We were never able to say: 'We're full, we're at capacity.' We now need to recognise that we can't do that." Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 16 June 2020