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Emergency health services are in crisis

19 January 2023

Access to emergency healthcare is in crisis; the current position is a national emergency. The Government should respond with an emergency approach and take steps to remedy the situation in the longer term. This is the conclusion of a report by the Public Services Committee published today.

The report

The report, Emergency healthcare: a national emergency includes an action plan, setting out what the Government must do to address this crisis

Key findings

  • In many cases, patients are attending emergency care services because they have—or feel they have—no alternative. The models for primary and community care are broken.
  • The crisis of emergency healthcare should be referred to a COBRA Committee.
  • The Government should consider, consult upon, and establish a bold and ambitious new operating model for emergency healthcare. This operating model must address pressures throughout the system and provide strong leadership.

Chair's comments

Baroness Armstrong, committee chair, said:

“Increased pressures on the NHS and across the health and social care sector are not new, especially during wintertime and we were aware of this when we started this inquiry in September. We could not have envisaged the extent and the severity of the current crisis, which some estimates suggest is causing 500 additional deaths per week.

“The problems have been widely discussed, and it is time for solutions. The models for community and primary care are broken, and a new approach is needed. Our recommendations are for both the immediate, and the longer term and are more relevant than ever.

“In the first instance we have called on the Government to treat this crisis with the urgency it deserves and address it as a national emergency. A referral for consideration by a COBR Committee is the only appropriate way to begin to remedy the crises and we urge the Government to take this first step and follow the other

Further information