Acute medicine ‘should be at the centre of NHS strategy’ – SAM president

The National Audit Office has today released its report Reducing emergency admissions which found emergency admissions grew by 24% from 2007-08 to 2016-17.

In response to the report, Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “This report epitomises the issues we face in the health service by failing to recognise the contribution of the specialty of acute medical in ensuring safe and quality care is sustained despite almost intolerable pressures on the NHS.

“At the moment our health economies, both hospitals and communities, are unable to meet the demands of their populations, funding has decreased and a even a mild winter brings the NHS in England to the edge of collapse.

“Acute medicine provides care to adult patients with a variety of medical conditions who are admitted to hospital and do not require urgent surgery and, while most people who attend A&E are discharged home, between 20% to 30% are admitted.

“Most people who are admitted by acute medicine are ill, bucking the common misunderstanding that all patients, especially older patients, simply need social care and, when A&Es fall over, the patients we see in corridors are mostly waiting for an acute medical bed.

“The specialty has been shown to reduce length of hospital stay, mortality rates and readmission rates and has been at the forefront of developing seven-day services, as well as ambulatory care to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions. In fact, the 79% the NAO quote as not needing a bed were almost certainly looked after by acute medicine in ambulatory care when previously they would have needed an inpatient bed for potentially several days.

“If it were not for the advances in implementing acute care processes the NHS may well have collapsed already, so the government and NHS leaders need to place acute medicine at the centre of their strategy to get our hospitals working again.”

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