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Friday 28th October 2016

A&E closures based on 'flawed evidence'

29th April 2010

Plans to downgrade some A&E services are based on flawed evidence, according to the College of Emergency Medicine.


The organisation said it was wrong to assume that most patients coming to A&E could be seen elsewhere and that investment in separate walk-in and urgent care centres was misguided and wasteful.

With a shift to more specialised care in fewer hospitals, the role of many A&E units has been focused on.

But the College of Emergency Medicine is concerned that plans for changes may be based on a statistic that suggests 60% of people attending A&E have relatively minor problems that could be addressed out elsewhere.

College president Dr John Heyworth says the 60% figure is "fiction", while the Primary Care Foundation believes it to be between 10% and 30%.

Dr Heyworth said: “It is a mantra which has driven strategy for a number of years, but our evidence from the college of emergency medicine and other evidence from recent research has confirmed that it's nowhere near 60%.”

He said most patients going to A&E need the expertise and resources that can only be offered by a hospital emergency department and that emergency department needs to be strengthened.

If different strategies were to be considered, he said that needed to be based on "robust, reliable clinically-led evidence".

The British Medical Association's Emergency Medicine Committee said assumptions behind the re-organisation of urgent and emergency care were "fundamentally flawed".

The Department of Health said it was for the NHS locally to decide on ways of meeting patients' urgent and emergency care needs.


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