The Health Select Committee has issued its report on winter planning in A&E departments calling for improved staffing in emergency departments and more funding for social care.
Anna Crossley, RCN professional lead for acute, emergency and critical care, said on 3 November: “Overwhelming pressure and crowded departments are no longer limited to winter, but have become normal all year round in our hospitals.
“Not only are emergency departments coping with a lack of staff and resources, they are feeling the impact of pressures and delays elsewhere in the health and social care system.”
The HSC report recommended that Health Education England “look again at the measures needed to improve staffing levels” and “redouble its efforts to ensure that the supply of such staff is sufficient to ensure safe and timely care”.
Crossley added: “There is still a worrying lack of workforce strategy nationally to improve staffing levels and reduce these pressures.
“Without enough community health and social care support, patients end up being admitted to hospital and having to stay longer than necessary.
“It is time the Government had a serious look at how long health and social care services can continue to function when they are consistently under-funded and under-staffed.”
The ongoing decline A&E departments achieving the four hour wait target “should be regarded as a matter of patient safety rather than a failure to meet a bureaucratic objective,” HSC said.
The report concluded that NHS England and particularly NHS Improvement need to facilitate the development of a “cultural approach” to staffing levels where waiting times in A&E are seen as everyone’s responsibility.