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Letter to The Times: COVID-19 and A&E

The following letter was published in The Times on 21 July 2020


We are pleased to see additional funding for the NHS (“£3bn injection to help NHS weather winter” July 17). One concern emerging, in the face of COVID-19, is the need to maintain patient safety in emergency care. Many emergency departments will need to be redesigned to improve infection control and maintain social distancing. This will be costly. However, given the huge challenges the NHS will inevitably face this winter, we must also change the way we work. We have a once-in-a-generation chance to transform the service to avoid the extreme pressures we saw before the pandemic. Medical royal colleges are committed to working together to revolutionise acute care because it affects the whole health system. This investment must be underpinned by modernising performance too.  We need to move away from one-dimensional metrics, such as the four-hour A&E target, towards a set of clinical standards that will drive improvement for patients from the minute they seek urgent help until they are discharged. We should not let this opportunity slip through our grasp.

Professor Carrie MacEwen
Chair, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges