Opportunities ahead but are you ready?

Emergency care faces the busiest time of the year with winter just two months away, so preparation is key.

After a promising start to summer and a wet August, we are marching towards winter. Are you ready for it?

In April, NHS England published its urgent and emergency care delivery plan, which said that by October every hospital should ensure that, with comprehensive ‘front-door streaming’, only the most unwell should reach the emergency department (ED).

New care models offer new opportunities. Picture: iStock

There are also plans to have more online 111 services and to ensure more timely hand-offs between ED and acute physicians to support patient flow. There will be ambulatory emergency care (AEC) and acute frailty units, as well as urgent care treatment centres, leaving only emergency care to be delivered in the ED.

You will already be embroiled with these plans in your own hospitals, but what will they mean for emergency care nurses? How will nurses develop the necessary knowledge and skills?


There are real opportunities for us to support the different models. But we need to make sure that new emergency nurses learn their craft in acute medical areas, AECs and acute frailty units as well as EDs so they become well-rounded practitioners.

Courses such as the two-day Heartlands Elderly Care Trauma and Ongoing Recovery programme are available to support staff from emergency, medical and older people services to learn together. I took the course in February and can recommend it as supporting a consistent, multidisciplinary approach.


With winter soon upon us, many ask ‘what winter crisis?’ as EDs remain busy all year. But with change all around us, how are you preparing? And how are you planning your emergency nursing career?

There are more opportunities to deliver care in more places – but more threats to EDs from a reduced nursing and medical workforce and many vacancies, so all of us are working harder.

Make sure you are engaged with plans for your own services and with those of external agencies so that patients continue to receive excellent emergency care, wherever it is delivered.

About the author

Mandy Rumley-Buss is a nurse consultant in emergency care, a committee member of the RCN Emergency Care Association and an associate of the Acute Frailty Network

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