At this time of year A&E departments across the country face massive pressures. The CQC highlights their failings regularly and publicly. "Something must be done" is a common refrain. I totally agree. But just because A&E departments display the problem, it doesn't mean they alone can fix the problem.
Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once. The NHS is a system. It has discreet parts that need to work in a synchronised manner to deliver effective, high quality care that is both affordable and gives patients and carers a good experience.
Improving waiting times in A&E requires a holistic approach. Two things will make that happen:
- Understand the end-to-end patient journey (of which a trip to A&E is a part) and identifying opportunities to improve.
- Involve staff who work in the pathway and their patients in developing that understanding.
You could do just the first, but without engaging staff you may as well sit back and wait for the next headline.