Just 33 percent of MPs believe emergency departments have sufficient resources to keep patients safe, shows a new poll by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.
The survey of 92 MPs, representing all parties and regions of the UK, also found strong support for a transformation fund for emergency departments, with four times as many saying they would support the move as oppose it.
Over 60 percent of those taking part in the poll voiced support for emergency departments receiving more money to help with the retention and recruitment of staff.
“This is surely now the time for the government to act,” said president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Taj Hassan. “The struggling NHS is currently the number one issue for people in this country and this poll shows a large majority of MPs – across all parties – believe urgent action is needed to address the lack of resources that is threatening patient safety.
“At present staff are struggling with just where to put patients – bed occupancy levels are far higher than the safe limit of 85%. This is unacceptable and is resulting in misery for our patients and added stress for our staff; the need for more beds is clear.
But he also stressed the importance of ensuring that staffing levels are adequate. “We estimate that the NHS in England is short of approximately 2,500 emergency medicine consultants,” he said, and noted that the increase in attendances in the last give years “is equivalent to the workload of 10 extra medium sized departments in England alone”.
“Only by providing more staff and improving our retention rate will we approach being able to attain levels that will provide stable, sustainable working patterns for the staff, and provide the best quality service for our patients.
“A correction in funding is imperative for our emergency departments, as well as social care, to provide more staff and more beds. This poll shows, and it is heartening to know, that such a correction would be supported by a majority of MPs.”
The survey also revealed that over one in 10 MPs said they didn’t know whether emergency departnemtns were sufficiently resourced to ensure patient safety, with nearly 20 percent of Conservative MPs saying they didn’t know.
“At a time when some local departments are fighting for their future in the face of sustainability and transformation plans, it is particularly worrying that one in 10 MPs seemingly don’t know if emergency departments are resourced well enough to ensure patient safety,” Dr Hassan said.
He urged MPs to “fully get to grips with the sustainability and transformation plans and to speak to local clinicians and senior managers,” as “only then will they be able to help ensure the safety and improve the health of patients in their constituencies.”
The news came just days after the College revealed the latest figures from its Winter Flow Project, which showed that, in the final week of February, four-hour standard performance stood at just 82.73 percent, down from 83.72 percent the previous week.
The number of patients subject to delayed transfers of care stabilised following some deterioration between the second and third weeks of February, with a total 2,809 instances recorded versus 2,814 the previous week.