Urgent – Summit Needed To Solve A&E ‘Crisis’

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An emergency summit is needed to find ways to ease the pressure on struggling A&E departments, Labour has said.

A number of hospital trusts have declared “major incidents” as they struggle to cope with the rising number of admissions in accident and emergency departments.

David Cameron has admitted the NHS is under pressure following the release of figures showing waiting times at A&E in England have hit their worst level in 10 years.

But he dismissed claims the service is on the brink of disaster.

The Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has published a letter accusing his opposite number of failing to anticipate the current problems.

Reports of fire engines and police cars being increasingly used as ambulances raised “major patient and public safety concerns”, Mr Burnham wrote.

“Patients are already being exposed to unacceptable levels of risk and the situation cannot be allowed to get any worse.

“Urgent action is needed to provide a coordinated response across Government from all public services.”

Mr Burnham said the summit needed to include representatives from the police, fire and ambulance services as well as NHS professionals.

The latest figures on A&E waiting times showed just 92.6% of patients were treated within the four-hour time limit against a target of 95%.

The British Medical Association said the records showed the “unprecedented levels of pressure” on the health service and the Royal College of Nursing said the system was in “crisis”.

But Mr Cameron said there was a “short-term pressure issue which we need to meet with resources and management”.

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