Chief executive of the NHS Confederation Mike Farrar said:
“We strongly support the ringing of the alarm bells by the College of Emergency Medicine and the Foundation Trust Network. They are absolutely right to highlight the current pressures in emergency care.
"The past few months have been the toughest many of us in the NHS can remember, and credit must go to A&E staff who have been working tirelessly to manage patients safely.
"Demand for urgent and emergency care services has continued to rise over recent years and is now consistently at the highest levels experienced by the NHS since its inception. The NHS has worked incredibly hard to ensure that waiting times have gone down in A&E departments, but this cannot mask the fact that admissions have increased, and hospitals face increasing difficulty in discharging patients back into their own homes as resources in social and community care have reduced.
"The key thing is to understand that A&E doesn't stand alone - pressure in our A&E departments is a visible symptom of a whole system under great strain and tackling it requires a whole-system solution.
"We urgently need to look at the alternatives. This includes fundamentally reviewing how we organise and fund our services outside traditional hospital settings, the way staff work throughout the whole week, and how we provide effective alternatives to hospital-based emergency care.
"If we don't take action now, we will all lose out - the pressures will continue to grow as people continue to use A&E because of a lack of viable alternatives."
The NHS Confederation represents all organisations that commission and provide NHS services. It is the only membership body to bring together and speak on behalf of the whole of the NHS. We help the NHS to guarantee high standards of care for patients and best value for taxpayers by representing our members and working together with our health and social care partners.
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