4. Improve the responsiveness of urgent and emergency care and increase its capacity

The last year has been challenging for urgent and emergency care (UEC) services as demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Building on the work of the UEC Recovery 10 Point Action Plan we will continue to support the improvement of UEC services across England to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This work will focus on bridging identified capacity deficits within UEC services, developing home care services and alternative urgent care pathways, supporting workforce recruitment and tackling delayed discharge from hospitals to improve flow across the wider UEC pathway.

Our commitments for 2022/23

Ensuring sufficient capacity to meet expected demand

  • Increase the call taking capacity of 999 and NHS 111 services.
  • Ensure all emergency departments have appropriate services in place to stream lower acuity patients into such as urgent treatment centres.
  • Scale up the use of virtual wards to care for patients who would otherwise require a hospital admission.
  • Review wider NHS capacity requirements against expected demand and seek to increase capacity where there are identified capacity deficits.

Recover ambulance service responsiveness

  • Reduce avoidable conveyance to hospital through reducing unwarranted variation in hear and treat and see and treat.
  • Enable senior clinical advice to be remotely available to emergency centre operations as well as paramedics and technicians at scene.
  • Reduce handover delays at hospital through supporting the provision of ambulance service liaison officers and sharing best handover practice to ensure ambulances are free to respond to new patients in the community.

Maximise the use of alternative urgent care pathways

  • Expand the use of urgent community services.
  • Scale up the provision of virtual wards to keep appropriate patients out of hospital.
  • Maximise the utilisation of same day emergency care services.
  • Improve the utilisation of the NHS directory of services to ensure citizens calling NHS 111 or 999 can directly access the full range of UEC services that are available locally.

Improve flow and reduce delayed hospital discharge

  • Implement the best practice interventions identified by the Health and Social Care Discharge Taskforce to reduce delays to hospital discharge.
  • Launch the Integration Front Runner programme to test new initiatives to reduce discharge delays.
  • Support systems to deliver an appropriate range of services seven days a week.
Next page: Improve access to primary care

You can download a PDF version of our 2022/23 business plan here