UK's emergency medical services may collapse under rising pressure, warn experts

The number of patients in the UK, who attended accident and emergency wards had risen by over a million in just one year, according to figures.

The news follows experts warning that emergency care system could collapse in six months due to rising demand.

According to the latest figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre 18,300,190 people attended A&E units in England between February 2012 and January 2013, an increase of 1,034,802 from the previous year.

Around two fifths (39 per cent) of those who were seen by A&E doctors got discharged with no follow up showing that no further treatment or advice was required by the patient about their condition.

Earlier today, the College of Emergency Medicine (CEM) called for ''fundamental change'' in the way emergency care was run, warning that A&E units were facing their biggest challenge in over a decade as departments grappled with ''unsustainable workloads'' and lack of staff.

Also the Foundation Trust Network, which represented over 200 health trusts in England, warned that A&E services were in danger of collapse in six months time due to ''huge pressure''.

According to health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, changes to the way out-of-hours care had had a ''huge impact'' on the services.

Meanwhile, a survey of 131 hospital emergency departments said that A&E units were struggling to cope with ''unsustainable workloads'' and lack of staff as new figures showed the number of patients has increased by more than a million in just one year.

Experts warned of the possible collapse of the emergency care system in six months on rising demand.

According to Hunt, changes to the way GPs provided out-of-hours care had had a "huge impact" on accident and emergency services.

Admitting to there being ''huge pressures' on accident and emergency services including a rising number of frail elderly patients with dementia, he said, what was needed to be done was to have a very fundamental look at the way A&E departments worked. Also there was a need to look at the alternatives to A&E as the government changed the GP contract in 2004 and they removed responsibility for out-of-hours care from GPs, he told ITV Daybreak.

"That has caused a dramatic fall in confidence in the public in what their alternatives to A&E are - that is what we have to sort out."

He added, "I think one of the problems we have at the moment is that it is too difficult to access out-of-hours care. People don't feel confidence in the care they will get, if they speak to a GP, the GP probably won't be able to see their medical notes and know about their background."