The College of Emergency Medicine (CEM) said co-location would allow patients to be routed to the most appropriate service with more staff on the front line, speed transfers between urgent and emergency care, provide immediate access to diagnostics for primary care staff and encourage knowledge sharing.
But the GPC said the best way to support emergency medicine, and the whole NHS, was to properly fund and expand the GP workforce.
The CEM launched its ‘STEP Campaign’ today, outlining four steps for politicians and NHS leaders to secure emergency medicine in England.
Safe staffing levels
There must, it said, be safe and sustainable staffing levels, fair and effective tariffs and funding, measures to tackle overcrowding, as well as primary care facilities co-located with A&E.
Of patients attending emergency departments 15% could have been treated by GPs, the college said.
‘Rather than blame the patients for attending A&Es, when they may have difficulty accessing other alternatives, we believe a new approach is required. Efforts to encourage patients to seek assistance over the phone or to go elsewhere over the past 15 years have not reduced the flow of people to A&Es.
‘So we believe the issue should be dealt with by positioning services where the patient is attending, by co-locating primary care facilities with A&Es.’
CEM said its approach was backed by NHS Providers (formerly The Foundation Trust Network), the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Surgeons, the NHS Confederation, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, NHS England and the DH.
GP workforce must grow
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘The real way to support not just A&E but the wider NHS, is to properly fund and expand the GP workforce. This has to be the priority for government and NHS England.
He added: ‘Hundreds of millions of pounds has been found for A&E but only pennies for general practice, and yet it's general practice where the real crisis is taking place. If the foundation is crumbing the whole house risks falling down and we must urgently deal with the crisis in general practice if we are to avoid the wider NHS collapsing.’
CEM president Dr Clifford Mann said: ‘This campaign is critical to providing relief and securing the future for A&Es. Our hard working doctors need tangible action to support them to stop the leaching of talent to Australia and New Zealand; patients deserve better access to care with primary care services being co-located with the A&E; "exit block" needs to be a thing of the past; and the funding systems must stop penalising hospitals for treating the acutely ill and injured.’