Council cuts affecting A&E services, CCQ finds

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has raised safety concerns about two thirds of A&E units in England, claiming the drop in standards is partly due to underfunding of council care services, leading to overcrowding in hospitals.

In its review the CQC outlined that emergency care was one of the poorest-performing parts of the system, with safety cited as a major weakness.

The data showed that 22 of 184 units were rated inadequate and another 95 as requiring improvement.

The regulator warned that rationing of council care, including access to home help for daily tasks such as washing and dressing and care homes, was pushing more vulnerable people into hospital.

David Behan, CQC chief executive, said that the council care system had reached a ‘tipping point’ and was in the worst state it had been a long time. Behan called on the government to pump more money into the council care system, but did not quantify how much extra funding the care system should get.

The review did note that there were many examples of good care among the 20,000 inspections it had carried out. It maintained that despite cuts to council care services, help that was being provided in the home and in care homes was rated as good or outstanding in 72 per cent of cases.

87 per cent of GP practices were ranked as good and outstanding, in addition to 42 per cent of hospital care overall.

Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association said: "While there are nuggets of positive examples of trusts successfully swimming against the tide, fundamentally, the tide has turned and the pressures are becoming so great that the health and social care sector is struggling to meet demand whilst delivering excellent quality care."