‘Pressures are at unsustainable levels’ says SAM president

Commenting on the release today of the latest NHS performance data, which shows the highest recorded number of 12-hour waits in emergency departments and a record low of 71.6 per cent of patients seen within four hours, Dr Tim Cooksley, president of the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM), said:

“The troubling situation we are seeing across the NHS up and down the country is reflective of a system that needs support.

“Pressures are at unsustainable levels and it is deeply concerning that the inability to even come close to meeting performance targets has now come to be expected month-on-month.

“Clinical and operational staff are working tirelessly to ensure this does not become the new “normal”. It is essential their efforts are recognised and that Government engage and support solutions.

“It is increasingly evident that urgent and emergency care is struggling to cope and, in some cases, is unable to deliver the safe and high quality clinical care every clinician wants to be able to provide for their patients.

“There is not a chance of a recovery of elective (non-urgent) care until the systemic problems beleaguering urgent and emergency care are sorted effectively and long-term.

“This means getting back to a point where we can increase flow through hospitals to prevent overcrowding in emergency departments and acute medical units and ensuring ambulances can handover patients in a timely manner and get back on the road.”

SAM is the national representative body for the specialty of acute medicine, which deals with the immediate and early treatment of adult patients with a variety of medical conditions who present to hospital as emergencies.

The specialty receives the majority of patients admitted from A&E and helps maintain the flow of patients through emergency departments to avoid exit block, the term used when patients cannot be moved into a hospital bed.