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Guidance on medical emergencies to be released

Guidance on medical emergencies to be released


Advice on acute medical emergencies is due to be published by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

It will look at a range of services including ambulance teams, accident and emergency units, out-of-hours GP services and discharge planning.

Demand for acute NHS services is large and continues to rise, with 20 million people visiting A&E in 2013, which is a 32% increase in the last decade.

In 2011/12 there were over 8 million calls to 999 and more than 6 million ambulance journeys made.

Clinical Practice Director at NICE, Professor Mark Baker, said: “Acute services are under increasing demand, with capacity close to the limit, staff and facilities are continuously under pressure. In some areas great efforts have been made to deal with the pressures on services and we have seen examples of innovative practice providing excellent care.

“However, there is still unacceptable variation across the country, with some recent reports finding that people are readmitted just days after discharge from emergency care and weekend admissions can be associated with a significantly increased risk of dying. What we have is a system struggling to meet increasing demands and this needs to change.

“As demands on acute services continue to grow, we must ensure that we have a systematic approach to service design and organisation in place to standardise best practice across the country. This NICE guideline will look at all settings where NHS care is provided for acute medical emergencies. It will address issues such as access to services at all times of day or night, appropriate staff skill mix, handover planning after discharge and alternatives to acute care in hospital.

“This one of the most ambitious and important guidelines that NICE has developed. We want to hear from all those who can provide relevant input for our guideline development group to consider as they make their recommendations.”

The cost of emergency admissions has continued to increase a rate of £83 million per year since 2004 and reached a total cost £11 billion for the NHS in 2009.

A draft guidance has been published by NICE and they are now looking for feedback from healthcare professionals and members of the public to decide the relevant topics to include in the recommendations.

Organisations can register as a stakeholder at any time development of the guideline in order to formally comment.

Public consultation will open until Wednesday 11 November.


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