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A&E Crisis

A&EAccident & Emergency units nationwide have endured an unprecedented summertime strain, that is set to continue this winter. Patients are facing growing waiting lists as A&E departments are overstretched, with patients paying the price. The Government’s response is to ask “what A&E crisis?

Labour recently called an Opposition Day Debate to demand the Tory-led Government confront an A&E crisis of their own making and to highlight the harm their policies are doing to our health service. David Cameron promised to protect our NHS, but the A&E crisis is further proof that the NHS isn’t safe in his hands. The Prime Minister has presided over the worst year in A&Es in living memory:

  • More than a million additional people are not being seen within four hours.
  • Over 250,000 people queued in ambulances outside hospital doors for more than half an hour, double the figure from 2009-2010.
  • In October alone, 78,424 hospital bed days were lost to delayed discharges, the highest since figures were published.

To anybody not sitting on the Government benches, the A&E crisis is plain to see. If the increasing sight of seriously ill patients being driven to hospital in taxis and police cars because there are no available ambulances doesn’t convince you there is a crisis, I don’t know what will. The apathy this Government are displaying towards the crisis being faced by our A&E departments is scandalous.

The single biggest cause of the rising pressure on A&Es is the growing number of elderly patients with long term conditions. In the last four years the number of those aged over 85 coming into A&E departments has increased by 26% and the problem is further compounded as congested A&E departments are finding it difficult to transfer or discharge patients into appropriate care settings.

An inability to provide sufficient care to patients outside A&E is causing a surge in arrivals at A&E departments, placing an unprecedented strain on the service. Despite a promise to protect the NHS and frontline services David Cameron has made savage cuts of nearly £2 billion to adult social services. Increasing numbers of people are arriving at A&E because they have nowhere else to go as community care services have been stripped away. Ultimately, this means poorer health outcomes for the patient and further expense and strains placed upon A&E departments.

Improving primary care will help our A&E units, yet while under Labour 9 out of 10 patients were able to see their GP within 48 hours of booking an appointment, under the Coalition the figure has fallen to 4 out of 10. This is in addition to the Prime Minster downgrading waiting time targets, scrapping Labour’s GP patient pledge, closing a third of NHS walk-in centres, scrapping NHS Direct and cutting adult social care services.

Patients who might have seen their GP, visited a NHS walk in centre or sought advice from NHS Direct are now arriving in A&E, and recent figures have shown that half of A&E patients did not receive any treatment or only needed advice.

However, short term savings have removed patients choices and have left people with little option but to visit A&E. This is a symptom of a large scale mismanagement of our health services from a Government who were more focused on forcing through a £3 billion top down reorganisation, privatising and fragmenting health services, and cutting 6,642 nurses from the NHS.

David Cameron’s reckless management of our health service shows that the NHS is not safe in his hands. We need an NHS which supports health professionals and prioritises patient care over private profits.

In 2015, it will once again fall to Labour save the NHS after five years of Tory neglect and failure with our most treasured institution.

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