A major report published in January 2023 by the House of Lords’ Public Services Committee has warned that “Emergency access to healthcare is in crisis.”
A shortage of primary and community care, low capacity and staffing levels in hospitals, combined with severe flu outbreaks and rising Covid cases, has placed unprecedented pressure on emergency healthcare in England. Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments have become incredibly overcrowded and under-staffed, resulting in waiting times for patients being the longest on record.
Emergency healthcare is a vital component of the NHS and unfortunately such delays are having a significant impact on patient care. In January 2023 the Royal College of Emergency Medicine estimated that delays in A&E are leading to 300 to 500 deaths a week UK-wide which would otherwise have been avoided with timely care.
In January 2023, details of a £1billion investment were outlined in a joint NHS England and government two-year blueprint. 800 new ambulances and 5,000 more hospital beds will be rolled out in England from April this year in a bid to tackle the long emergency care delays. The scheme will also seek to increase urgent care provided in the community to ensure people receive the care and treatment they need at home, without the need for a hospital admission. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said “Cutting NHS waiting times is one of my five main priorities. Urgent and emergency care is facing serious challenges but we have an ambitious and credible plan to fix it.”
With emergency care deteriorating, it is hoped that the scheme will help to resolve the current crisis and restore A&E departments across England, making them fit for purpose.
Increased waiting times and delays in A&E departments alone are not ordinarily a sufficient basis to bring a medical negligence claim. However, excessive pressure on staff in A&E can sometimes lead to mistakes being made, such as misdiagnoses, misinterpretation of test results, delayed treatment or failing to refer a patient for appropriate tests, all of which could give rise to a medical negligence claim.
If you believe that you or a family member have suffered avoidable harm as a result of negligent treatment in an A&E Department, please contact our Medical Negligence team for a confidential, initial discussion and advice:
Exeter 01392 285000 Cullompton 01884 33818