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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Emergency NHS care concerns

26th September 2008

The Healthcare Commission has raised concerns about the state of emergency care services in England.


It focussed on A&E departments, out-of-hours GP services, NHS Direct, walk-in centres and ambulance care and found that in 40% of areas the standard was not good enough.

In a report, the Healthcare Commission found that patients faced delays or were confused over where to go for the help they needed.

Overall, parts of the urgent and emergency care service suffered communication problems in different parts of the NHS. Only a third of the 152 primary care trusts, which are responsible for coordinating local services, had active networks in place.

The Commission found fewer than half of GP services had arrangements in place to divert callers to the out-of-hours provider, while a third of out of hours providers failed to respond to calls quickly enough.

It was also found that ambulances have been unable to get back into service quickly enough after taking patients to A&E in several areas.

A consequence of the problems was leading to too many patients turning up at A&E instead of using other services, with over half of the visits to some units deemed unnecessary.

The watchdog gave its backing to piloting one number for emergency and urgent care calls so that patients could be signposted to the correct service. The 999 number, however, would still be available for life-threatening situations.

However, Professor Sir George Alberti, the government's emergency care tsar, claimed most of the care offered was of a "high standard".


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