A&E crisis symptom of a wider problem

Monday 16th February 2015


The huge strain being put on Accident and Emergency departments up and down the country has dominated the Scottish headlines in recent weeks. 

Indeed, the most recent statistics show that in December 2014 over 12,000 people had to wait more than four hours before being treated.

In one instance a hospital was forced to use a portakabin to cope with the A&E overspill.

As the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said in a briefing for MSPs last week, overcrowding in emergency departments is happening because there are not enough beds for people who have been seen in A&E and who are ready to be admitted to hospital.

This is creating a blockage in the system as it means that new patients arriving at A&E have to wait longer to be treated.

The shortage of beds is symptomatic of a wider problem which is primarily to do with the fact that there is a lack of appropriate facilities for people to be cared for within the community.

This means that patients, primarily the elderly and infirm, who are ready to leave hospital, are often forced to stay until a space frees up.

Protecting the NHS budget is of course of crucial importance, but we also need to ensure that the social care sector is properly funded to help shift the balance of care into the community and ease the strain on our hospitals.

Ultimately we need a whole system review of health and social care if we are to get our National Health Service back on the road to recovery.

Patients and staff deserve nothing less.