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26 September 2018

Fight plans for A&E appointment system - fight to save our NHS

Andrew Bromhall, NHS nurse, Swansea and West Wales Socialist Party

NHS England could introduce an "appointment system" in A&E departments as part of its proposed "NHS targets shake up". This makes me very angry, but it is not with disbelief that I read this latest preposterous idea.

In response to government pressure to meet waiting-time targets, it has been suggested that A&Es in England adopt a model which has recently been used in Denmark to meet its obligation to see 95% of patients within four hours of arrival. This would force the 22 million visitors to A&Es in England to call and book an appointment before arrival.

Professor Keith Willet, NHS director of acute care, would like to see a shift to the Danish system that was attempted in Copenhagen in 2014. It led to complaints that patients faced long delays getting through to busy phone lines. Some illnesses and diseases were misdiagnosed because the person assessing had no face-to-face contact with the patient.

A&E staff also expressed concern as to who would be responsible for triaging - deciding the order in which patients are treated - when they rang.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine - the body that represents A&E doctors - totally rejects the idea of appointment systems. Its president Dr Taj Hassan stated: "I would be very surprised if this worked in the NHS. The NHS is full of innovated ideas that crash and burn".

Another idea recently suggested to improve efficiency is that targets for cataract and cancer treatment be watered down. This is indicative of the cavalier attitude that the government and capitalist class have towards the NHS.

The Socialist Party demands an NHS that is free at the point of use and operated under democratic, working class control.

Kick out the privateers and cutters, fund the NHS properly, and tackle the chronic under staffing which is the real threat to patient safety at the present time.

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