Talk of billions can’t hide failure to get the basics right for so long – SAM president

Following today’s announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on NHS and social care funding (07 September), Dr Susan Crossland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said:

“The figures may look significant when talk of billions is involved but people shouldn’t be distracted from the reality which is that the additional funds for the NHS along with the longer-term investment outlined today will barely scratch the surface after years of neglect.

“Patients, staff and the wider public will not be convinced by figures or that this government has a real understanding of how to resolve the NHS and social care crises given it has failed to get the basics right – and no injection of money will help our current exhausted workforce.

“By the basics we mean the issues we and so many other bodies, leaders and organisations have highlighted extensively for the past six or seven years – renovating ageing estates, retaining and recruiting staff, increasing bed capacity and sorting out social care.

“All we can say at this point is that it is really key the funding we do see enter the system – albeit so late on so many fronts – is used in the best possible way to maximise benefits to patients and staff and is invested ways that will give the best chance of long-term or permanent transformation.

“Acute medicine is key to solving many of the system pressures in the NHS – particularly over winter – as it receives the majority of patients from emergency departments and play a vital role in managing flow from EDs to the rest of the hospital. 

“However, that is not feasible when it becomes the “go to” solution for helping out in EDs, giving up beds for extra capacity l or working in sub-standard facilities with a stretched workforce.

“So we need to start thinking about acute medical units (AMUs) as different to the rest of the hospital bed base and as a long-term solution to preventing significant issues at the front door of hospitals (EDs) through to the back door (wards and subsequent discharge).

“This means sorting out AMUs with more staff, purpose-built units and better training of the whole team of staff, as well as investing properly in same day emergency care so it can be utilised as it should be with the ability to make a real difference to patient care and admission rates.”