Ipswich: How do we get A & E out of intensive care?
12:50 14 March 2014
Legally Speaking with Ashton KCJ
We all know that Accident and Emergency Departments (A&E) are struggling to cope with increasing pressures on resources.
We have an increasingly ageing population, and services in the community have been cut so that many people see A&E as their only option.
Last winter many hospitals failed to meet the A&E four hour waiting time target.
Some extra funding has contributed towards an improvement in overall waiting times, but a significant number of the larger A&E departments are still missing the four hour target.
The bottleneck in A&E has an impact in turn on the efficiency of the ambulance service.
We have all heard the reports of ambulances queuing outside A&E waiting for their patients to be admitted, then unable to respond to other emergency calls.
Sometimes, this has tragic consequences.
So what is the solution? Would the problem be solved by making it a less easy option?
Earlier this year, it was reported that one in three GPs would support charging patients £10 per visit to A&E, with a proposed refund if the trip was deemed necessary. It was argued that this would prevent patients from visiting A&E with trivial and minor complaints, such as coughs and colds.
But this latest proposal of charging patients is very concerning for all of us who campaign for patients’ rights and for supporters of the NHS, as it undermines the basic principle of the NHS being free for all.
Campaigners for patients’ rights have responded by saying that the crisis in NHS hospitals has been caused by GPs no longer providing a proper out-of-hours service.
In reality, there are probably many factors which contribute to the pressures placed on A&E services; the confusing and sometimes inadequate out-of-hours system and the lack of adequate support in the community for those who are most vulnerable, such as the elderly and those with mental health issues.
However, whatever the causes of the problems, A&E is an essential service; we rely on it in times of critical need.
Please contact Ashton KCJ’s Medical Injury team for individual advice.
T: 01473 232425
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. We would advise you to seek professional advice before acting on this information.