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Urgent care system in crisis

View profile for Laura Sheehan
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Baby boy dies after NHS Trust makes mistakes during delivery

For anyone unfortunate enough to have required emergency care in recent months, they will have likely seen first-hand the current state of pressure on our urgent care system. Hours of waiting and a struggle to find beds. Patients being left too long without the vital treatment they need to save their lives.  A clinician described it as ‘like a warzone’.

Speaking in confidence, clinicians across the country have come forward to describe their experience of the emergency care system and the quotes are harrowing. One Manchester A&E consultant said, “We are witnessing harm on a daily basis with patients either dying in the emergency department or their condition significantly worsening before they have been seen and/or admitted.”

A paramedic said, “We’re reaching them 12 hours later than we should. Had we got there earlier, they would have been alive - by the time we get there, they are already dead….If they are alive when we get to them, they’re dying in the ambulance after waiting 12 hours for us, or they're dying as they wait eight hours in A&E.”

The ambulance service, NHS 111 received record high volumes of calls over the Christmas and new year period which is believed in part due to a lack of social support as well as increased flu and covid cases flooding the hospitals. The public has been asked to help manage the high demand coming through the urgent care system by ensuring they are getting help from the appropriate health service. NHS Greater Manchester has a number of wellbeing programmes in place and are working with partners to try and address some of the issues.  All partners in the NHS, social care and voluntary sector are working together to support hospital admissions, where they can in an effort to reduce the number of patients attending urgent care. In the meantime pleas are being made by the NHS for patients to use NHS 111 online for 24/7 advice about the most appropriate care, and only attending A&E if seriously ill or injured.

It’s an unsettling and worrying time for emergency care across the country but to help ease the workload, the NHS have given the following guidance to patients if they’re unsure about where to turn for treatment:

If it’s an emergency: call 999 or find your nearest A&E.

If you need help now but it’s not an emergency: call 111 or go to 111.nhs.uk, speak to a pharmacist for advice or see a GP or dentist.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to the negligence of a medical or health professional then we may be able to help you pursue a claim for compensation. Our leading team of experts are on hand to offer advice, so please get in touch with us on 0161 696 6165 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you directly.