The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has outlined three ways in which pressures on emergency care can be eased.
Following a “crisis summit” between the RCN and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), the two organisations drew up a report: The Medicine Needed for the Emergency Care Service.
The colleges found three aspects of emergency care that could be improved, including better training, merging emergency departments with A&E hubs and a new “culture of collaboration” between hospitals.
The report notes that a fifth of nurses have been unable to complete essential training in the last year because of staff shortages.
It says joint training sessions should be implemented “as a minimum” to encourage teamwork in a specialty that depends on collaboration.
The report adds: “Only by training, recruiting and retaining the right number of staff with the right range of skills can we meet the needs of an expanding and aging patient cohort.”
The RCN and RCEM are also calling for “A&E hubs” that include co-located GPs, pharmacists, specially trained nurses and geriatricians.
Janet Davies, RCN chief executive, said pressures on emergency departments are no longer just a feature of the winter, but present all year round.
“Despite the best efforts and dedication of staff, these pressures are affecting all patients accessing emergency care,” she said.
“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.”
Dr Clifford Mann, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, added: “The need for an effective strategy to increase the nursing and medical workforce to meet the demands on the emergency care service is now urgent.
“Exhortations for hospitals simply to increase the number of emergency physicians and nurses working in A&E are doomed to fail when there simply aren’t enough doctors and emergency nurses to go round.
“The recommendations from the crisis summit are fundamental to providing effective patient care and must be implemented.”