A couple of weeks have passed since launch of our Urgent and Emergency Care Review end of Phase 1 Report. So, I wanted to thank all of those people who took the time to respond to the first blogs from both Sir Bruce and myself which accompanied publication of our report.
Thank you too for sharing your personal experiences of the current system – some good, and some bad. From reading your words it is clearer than ever to me that this Review is much needed.
When you boil our Report down to the key points what we really want to achieve is quite simple.
For those people with urgent but non-life threatening needs:
- We must provide highly responsive, effective and personalised services outside of hospital, and
- Deliver care in or as close to people’s homes as possible, minimising disruption and inconvenience for patients and their families
For those people with more serious or life threatening emergency needs:
- We should ensure they are treated in centres with the very best expertise and facilities in order to maximise their chances of survival and a good recovery
I was struck when reading your comments how closely the issues you have all raised tie in with these two key themes.
We absolutely have to do more to help people navigate the current system, so that people with urgent care needs to get the right advice in the right place, first time. We hope that work we are doing with colleagues in NHS England about developing 111 will help us get there.
Access to treatment in the community is clearly a live issue from what you have told us. Providing faster and consistent same-day, every-day access to general practitioners, primary care and community services such as local mental health teams and community nurses for patients with urgent care needs is clearly very important to you. You are right in identifying that we need to be clearer around issues such as the facilities and services offered in the community, and opening times, if we are to be able to offer people the care they need as close to home as possible.
Mental health crisis is another issue which featured prominently in your responses. Similarly, alcohol misuse. As our evidence base for the Review shows these are really big issues that are at the forefront of our minds.
Our proposals to introduce two levels of hospital emergency department – under the current working titles of Emergency Centres and Major Emergency Centres - generated lots of interest in your comments. You have raised some issues about what this means for you locally, especially in terms of concerns about travelling further for treatment and the impact on rural areas.
We really do believe that if we can introduce a more networked approach to the delivery of urgent and emergency care then we can offer a high quality service for all. Establishing these networks in a way that allows the right kind of services to be offered to meet the needs of local populations is an important issue that we will have to work hard on during the Review, because we recognise that this is a key concern for you. We emphasised the importance of a “whole system” approach in our Report. And you recognised this too. Having the right blend of services close to home (e.g. in pharmacies, GP surgeries, and minor injury centres) is an important part of the solution.
The team working with me on this Review have been busy over the past couple of weeks. You will no doubt have seen either myself or Sir Bruce in the newspapers, or on TV, talking about the Review. We were pleased with the coverage that it has got – which has been mostly measured and fair. The wider team have been working hard behind the scenes to get our Delivery Group up and running. This work will continue over the next few weeks, and we will be asking Delivery Group members to share their thoughts with you over the coming months.
Thanks again for taking the time to read our work to date, and to share your views. They are really important to us and so please do keep commenting.