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Seizing the future

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Accident and emergency

Evidence shows that the best outcomes for patients are achieved in bigger A&E departments, where more specialist skills are available to deal with the presenting emergencies - even if that means they must be taken past the closest general hospital to another site.

There is no evidence that longer transfer times for patients who have been assessed and stabilised have an adverse effect on outcomes.

A&E departments do not stand alone. They can only provide a safe service where they have the back-up of a full range of medical and surgical services.

All three hospitals currently have moderately busy A&E departments. Bishop Auckland provides an A&E service for medical emergencies and minor injuries. It has not undertaken trauma care or any unplanned surgery for the five years following the local Darzi review.

Guidance from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in 2007 states: “Where surgery is not available on-site, the hospital should not accept unselected medical patients.” This raises serious questions about the sustainability of the Bishop Auckland A&E department and this situation cannot continue beyond the short term.

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