Highly skilled triage is the best way to tackle A&...

Highly skilled triage is the best way to tackle A&E crisis, says Unite

24 July 2013

The best way to tackle the A&E crisis is to invest in a highly skilled and joined-up triage system where the best care for patients is decided before automatically sending them to overcrowded hospital casualty departments.

Unite, the country’s largest union with over 100,000 members in the health service, was commenting on the critical report by the Commons health select committee on the current state of A&E units.

Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “It is clear that A&E departments in England are beyond crisis point and radical new thinking is required to better manage the increasing demands.

“Triage is the process of determining the priority of patients' treatments based on the nature of their condition. This manages treatments efficiently and enables patients to get the best treatment to meet their needs, which may enable more people to stay in their homes.

“For example, a GP or a paramedic team may decide that a patient needs to go down the social care pathway or it might be that the mental health team or the rehab team may be the best option.

“To achieve this and ease the pressure on A&E, there needs to be a much more joined-up system locally with proper investment.”

Unite is developing a number of recommendations which include:

  • The role of the GP in the multi-disciplinary team
  • Triage to be delivered with local and expert knowledge of services
  • Ambulance services to oversee triage and lead a 24/7 triage system integrated with primary care
  • Being able to refer patients to a range of pathways/agencies, including mental health, social care services,  social work and/or acute sector.

Rachael Maskell said: “For this triage system to work, it needs to be fully funded and fully staffed.

“What the A&E departments don’t need is the involvement of the private sector whose priority is making profits from patient suffering and expensive management consultants coming up with glossy reports.”


For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.