Can emergency care survive another 50 years?

Patricia Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial


As the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) celebrates 50 years it is timely to reflect on how the specialty has developed to become an immensely complex service delivered by a remarkable and highly skilled team of dedicated practitioners.In 1972, there were only 32 consultants. Senior registrars emerged in 1977, and this led to the introduction of formal training schemes. The Major
Trauma Outcome Study 1988 was a major milestone leading to the introduction of Advanced Trauma Life Support courses. It seems only a short time ago that our ‘casualty’ departments changed into the target-driven, economically deficient system of emergency care we have today, in which patients often wait unacceptable periods in uncomfortable conditions in emergency department
(ED) corridors. Anyone who watched the verbal sparring between Labour leader
Jeremy Corbyn and Prime Minister Theresa May at the first prime minister’s questions in January, will be aware of criticism about the handling of patients who, due to overcrowding, have no option but to remain outside of the ED. Words of comfort for these patients were demanded by Mr Corbyn; ‘nothing is perfect’, was Mrs May’s retort. While the persuasive power of statistics on missed ambulance targets, four-hour targets and discharges show how bad the situation has been this winter, a visit to an ED would help the government understand how many patients must wait excessive periods for treatment and care. These patients can be cold, in pain, uncomfortable and frightened, and the situation they are in is unacceptable. Nevertheless, emergency nurses will continue to do their best when caring for their patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-5
Number of pages1
JournalEmergency Nurse
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2018


  • Emergency Nursing
  • Trauma


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