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Campaign launched to ‘rebuild’ emergency care in Scotland

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Doctors’ leaders have launched an initiative aimed at “rebuilding the emergency medicine service step by step” in Scotland.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has this week extended its STEP campaign to Scotland. It was launched in England in November last year.

The college is calling for action to address the “significant challenges” facing Scotland’s accident and emergency departments.

While some important progress has been made, much work remains to be done to provide the safe and quality service that patients require, the college said.

It is calling for the following four steps to be taken:

  • STEP 1: Safe and sustainable staffing levels must be achieved
  • STEP 2: Terms, working conditions, and funding, must be fair and effective
  • STEP 3: Exit block and overcrowding must be tackled
  • STEP 4: Primary care facilities must be co-located with ED services

Dr Martin McKechnie, vice president (Scotland) of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “This campaign is essential for providing immediate support to, as well as ensuring the future of, Scotland’s emergency departments.”

He said the college welcomed the support that the Scottish Government had so far given to increasing staffing and tackling crowding in A&E. But he added that “real action” now needed be taken.

“Exit block must be eliminated for the safety of our patients,” he said. “[And] improved access to primary care through co-location of services should be facilitated to ensure patients receive the right care first time.”

“Focusing on A&Es in isolation is an oversimplification of the problem”

Theresa Fyffe

However, the Royal College of Nursing warned against focusing too much attention on A&E, noting that it was the symptom of wider problems.

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe highlighted that the NHS was under considerable pressure and the “symptoms of this are often most obvious in our A&Es”.

“As the Royal College of Medicine points out, much of the difficulty seen at A&E is because there simply aren’t the beds in the right wards and hospitals for the people being admitted.

“But we would also argue that if you don’t have the appropriate health and social care services in place in the community – particularly out-of-hours – then you get more and more people turning up at A&E requiring treatment or admission,” she said. “Focusing on A&Es in isolation is an oversimplification of the problem.”

Ms Fyffe added: “We think the Scottish Government should put in place a sustainable approach to the whole health and social care system.”

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