Plans to address the problem of struggling A&E departments "lack sufficient urgency", MPs have warned. The Health Select Committee said it was not convinced recent proposals were an "adequate response" to the growing crisis.
Health Select Committee has said emergency care in hospitals "needs to change" and hospital officials must address low staffing levels in emergency departments and ensure more comprehensive out-of-hours cover from consultants.
A report by the committee in to A&Es says:
"Staffing levels in emergency departments are an area of considerable concern to the Committee. They are not sufficient to meet demand, with only 17% of emergency departments managing to provide 16 hour consultant coverage during the working week.
"The situation is even worse at weekends and consultant staffing levels are nowhere near meeting recommended best practice. "
MPs have called the decision to launch the troubled NHS 111 service in April "premature".
A report by MPs said: "NHS 111 was launched prematurely without any real understanding of the impact it would have on other parts of the NHS including emergency and urgent care."
The line was meant to replace NHS Direct but just a month after its launch, medics warned that the "problematic" roll-out of the system left many patients not knowing where to turn and many said troubles with the service heaped pressure on already struggling A&Es.
Health officials launched an investigation into the advice line after a number of potentially serious incidents, including three deaths, were linked to the service.
Health Select Committee chair Stephen Dorrell MP has called on NHS England to ensure that the recovery plans for A&Es are agreed in each area before the end of September.
We were not convinced that the plans presented to us represented an adequate response to the challenges the system faces
The committee is mindful of pressures which will build during next winter and is concerned that current plans lack sufficient urgency.
We were concerned that witnesses disagreed about the nature of demand for urgent and emergency care. The system is 'flying blind' without adequate information about the nature of the demand being placed upon it.
Plans to address the problem of struggling A&E departments "lack sufficient urgency", MPs have warned.
The Health Select Committee said it was not convinced recent proposals were an "adequate response" to the growing crisis.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously admitted the "huge pressures" in A&Es reflect other problems in the health service and to address the problems, NHS England ordered local health authorities to form "urgent care boards" to ensure all A&E departments had "recovery and improvement plans."
But MPs have raised concerns about the boards, saying experts who gave evidence to them were "unclear" about how many of these boards were planned, what powers they will have and whether they are voluntary or compulsory, temporary or permanent, established structures or informal meeting groups.