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Managing emergency admissions to hospital.

The National Audit Office has reported 5.3m emergency admissions to hospitals in England – a 47% rise in 15 years.

The NAO report defined emergency hospital admissions as unplanned admissions at short notice, due to the apparent clinical need. The report found an increased number of patients who attended major A&E departments, were admitted over the past decade.

The NAO report estimated at least a fifth of patients admitted as emergencies, could be better managed in the community by the patient, their GP or another member of the primary care team. People particularly those who live close to an acute hospital, were more likely to use A&E departments as the first place to seek treatment. The report concluded hospital admissions to A&E and then being admitted had become the ‘’default route’ for urgent and emergency care.

Once admitted, the report highlighted there were delays in discharging patients once they are fit to leave hospital. The National Audit Office reported ‘Improving the flow of patients will be critical to the NHS’s ability to cope with future winter pressures on urgent and emergency care services.’’
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We know demand for A&E services is increasing as the population ages, with more people needing more healthcare.’’
“That’s why we are tackling both the short and long-term problems: transforming out of hospital care by reversing the disastrous changes to the 2004 GP contract, joining up the health and social care system, and backing A&Es with £250 million to prepare for this winter.
Katherine Murphy, Patients Association Chief Executive has said ‘’Demand on A&E services increases as patients continue to struggle to get an appointment with their GP and trust in out-of-hour services is at an all-time low. The A&E crisis is not new and it is unacceptable for patients’ safety to continue to be compromised.

Urgent and emergency care must be a key priority for the government alongside appropriate, properly funded, primary care services. When patients are ill they need access to appropriate, safe, high quality care. Immediate action needs to be taken.’’

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