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Nurses could take on key role to calm the ‘crisis’ in emergency medicine, say experts

A&E patients could be treated by specially-trained nurses as part of measures to tackle the ‘crisis’ in emergency care.
A&E

Patients arriving at A&E could be treated by specially-trained nurses instead of doctors as part of measures to tackle the crisis in emergency medicine.

A new report into the crisis facing A&E by the RCN and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said pressures would be eased if emergency departments (EDs) became part of healthcare hubs where patients have access to GPs, pharmacists and geriatricians.

People who walk through the doors of A&E do not necessarily need to be treated by an emergency medicine doctor, according to the report The Medicine Needed for the Emergency Care Service. Often they could be treated by a GP, pharmacist, specially-trained nurse or a geriatrician.

Solutions for an overloaded system

The authors said emergency care systems in England are facing their biggest challenge in more than a decade, with unsustainable workloads and a lack of staff.

Currently the system is

Patients arriving at A&E could be treated by specially-trained nurses instead of doctors as part of measures to tackle the ‘crisis’ in emergency medicine.

A new report into the crisis facing A&E by the RCN and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said pressures would be eased if emergency departments (EDs) became part of healthcare hubs where patients have access to GPs, pharmacists and geriatricians.

People who walk through the doors of A&E do not necessarily need to be treated by an emergency medicine doctor, according to the report The Medicine Needed for the Emergency Care Service. Often they could be treated by a GP, pharmacist, specially-trained nurse or a geriatrician.

Solutions for an overloaded system

The authors said emergency care systems in England are facing their ‘biggest challenge’ in more than a decade, with unsustainable workloads and a lack of staff.

‘Currently the system is overwhelmed by the demands upon it. Crowded and chaotic departments are dangerous for patients and demoralising for staff,’ the report says.

The report follows a summit held by the RCN and the RCEM in May where officials came up with key recommendations to tackle the crisis facing emergency medicine.

These include:

  • A&Es becoming ‘hubs’
  • Better education and training for staff
  • A new culture of collaboration across hospitals and the NHS as a whole.

Experts speaking at the summit revealed attendances at EDs have risen by 611,000 each year for the past five years.

Year-round problem

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said pressures on EDs were no longer just a feature of the winter, but present all year round.

‘Despite the best efforts and dedication of the staff, these pressures are affecting all patients accessing emergency care,’ she added.

‘These problems cannot be solved overnight and will require a system-wide approach to reduce the blockages which so often add to the pressures on A&E.

‘The time for action is now. The RCN and RCEM have developed these practical recommendations to sustain the emergency care service. There can be no excuse to ignore this situation any longer. Patients deserve better.’

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