40% of us go to Accident and Emergency each year but the figure is growing year on year. Most of us will have realised that this is a service already under strain. This is a front-line service dealing with all sorts of different medical conditions, some of which really are urgent and requiring referral to other specialists to save life and limb.
140 Doctors wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister recently expressing concern that lives are at risk because of closures. Under current plans 10% of Accident and Emergency Departments either have already closed or are in danger of closing shortly.
Adequate funding of Accident and Emergency Departments – and simply having enough of them – is crucial to proper care. Already this is a place where mistakes happen. Emergency Doctors see widely ranging medical conditions. They need quickly to be able to identify when a condition is serious and who to refer to. This is a difficult task, especially when much of the work at the front line is done by the most Junior Doctors.
Unfortunately mistakes in Emergency Departments can be catastrophic. I am acting for people who have had Amputations because whilst their fracture was treated, damage to the blood supply was missed. I am acting for a man left seriously disabled and in need of 24 hour care when failing to spot Septic Arthritis as the cause of his hip pain led to a Stroke. A young woman suffered a fit and a Brain Injury after her Meningitis was missed. Other people died of undiagnosed Aortic Aneurysms. And missed fractures are alarmingly common.
We all know quite how important Emergency Departments are and it is important that there are enough of them locally that we can access them easily. The fact that this service is under real strain is a matter for concern. The experts know this. Let’s hope the government listens.
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