Expanding integrated urgent and emergency care capacity

Expanding acute capacity

Through additional funding the NHS has already increased the number of staffed hospital beds, with more to come.

As we know there is a well-established link between high bed occupancy rates in hospitals and worse A&E performance.

So there will be 5,000 more staffed, sustainable beds in 2023/24 in the places that will deliver the greatest benefit to patients and allocated in a fair way across the country.

Increasing ambulance capacity

Over 800 new ambulances are expected to be available during 2023/24, with the majority expected to be available ahead of winter, as part of ongoing improvement and replacement of our fleet, including 100 new specialist mental health response vehicles.

Systems are asked to implement a single point of access for paramedics to ensure consistent and rapid access to clinical advice and alternative services, which will help to reduce unnecessary conveyance.

In addition, increasing clinical assessment of calls in every ambulance control centre will ensure that the sickest patients are prioritised for ambulances and that patients who do not need a face-to-face response can be transferred quickly to services more appropriate for their needs.

Improving processes and standardising care

We know from patients how important it is to have a smooth experience in hospital but there is still significant variation between processes in hospitals, with opportunities to learn from where things are being done best and with a less confusing experience for patients.

As we increase capacity, we will use existing capacity as effectively as possible by standardising processes so that patients get the right care at the right time, including when moving between organisations.

NHS England has established a new improvement programme to support standardisation of care, working with clinical leadership to set out common principles for providers, including developing professional networks to support peerto-peer learning and challenge, leadership and best practice.

Guidance and resources