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A&Es facing ‘drastic shortage’ of nurses, warns RCN

The RCN has warned A&Es departments in England are ‘buckling’ under the pressure of rising demand and chronic shortage of nurses.
A&E crisis

The RCN has warned emergency departments in England are buckling under the pressure of rising demand and a drastic shortage of nurses

In a written submission to a Commons Health Committee inquiry into planning for winter pressures in emergency departments (EDs), the college said it was very concerned about ED staffing levels in the face of rising admissions and budgetary constraints.

There was a significant reduction in trolley waits last winter, according to NHS England. Photo: Press Association

There is a drastic shortage of nurses working in A&E departments, the RCN said.

Across England, the acute sector is buckling under the strain of financial pressures and increased demand for services.

Averting winter crisis

It is clear that the pressure is affecting the whole system. However, A&E units are often the place where effects are most visible.

In a joint submission to

The RCN has warned emergency departments in England are ‘buckling’ under the pressure of rising demand and a ‘drastic shortage’ of nurses

In a written submission to a Commons Health Committee inquiry into planning for winter pressures in emergency departments (EDs), the college said it was ‘very concerned’ about ED staffing levels in the face of rising admissions and budgetary constraints.

There was a ‘significant reduction in trolley waits’ last winter, according to NHS England. Photo: Press Association

‘There is a drastic shortage of nurses working in A&E departments,’ the RCN said.

‘Across England, the acute sector is buckling under the strain of financial pressures and increased demand for services.

Averting winter crisis

‘It is clear that the pressure is affecting the whole system. However, A&E units are often the place where effects are most visible.’

In a joint submission to the inquiry, the Department of Health (DH) and NHS England outlined measures to avert a crisis this winter, including cutting back non-urgent operations and cancelling outpatient appointments in the run-up to Christmas.

Measures put forward by the DH and NHS England include:
  • Reducing the number of elective procedures carried out in the period immediately before Christmas to create more non-elective capacity.
  • Cancelling some outpatient activity.
  • Trusts will also be required to produce clear discharge plans for inpatients prior to the holiday period to provide more beds.
  • Patients will be encouraged to make ‘appropriate choices’ on using pharmacies, walk-in centres and GP surgeries to reduce inappropriate ED attendance.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: ‘The NHS again proved resilient this winter despite further increase in demand, with fewer trusts reporting serious operational issues and a significant reduction in trolley waits.

‘We are already preparing for the upcoming winter with hospitals, GPs, social services and other health professionals coming together to work out the best way of responding in every area of the country.’


Further information

MPs launch inquiry into winter pressures for emergency departments

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