• News follows “early discussions” with senior medics about plans supported by an “emergency care transformation fund”
  • Government source tells HSJ it will not be acting to increase emergency care funding before the next election
  • Royal College of Emergency Medicine says it will be “developing plans over coming months”

The government will take no action to increase funding to support emergency departments during this parliament, a senior Department of Health source has told HSJ.

The source also said the DH had taken part in no talks on action to increase funding during this Parliament, and would not be doing so.

The news follows the Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s president Taj Hassan telling HSJ he had been in “early discussions” with health secretary Jeremy Hunt about a plan which requires substantial upfront funding.

The DH had previously declined to comment on the discussions and the RCEM has since published a statement to “clarify” its position.

Dr Hassan said nothing had been agreed, but that the plans under discussion could deliver long term savings by cutting the NHS’s nearly £700m emergency department locum bill. This could take “three to four years” and would require significant upfront funding, he said.

However, a DH source has since told HSJ there is no prospect of it taking action to put in place additional funding to support emergency care any time before the next election. The source told HSJ the department would continue on-going dialogue with all royal colleges.

The RCEM has also today issued a statement clarifying its position, stating that no “official discussions had taken place over extra funding for emergency medicine”. It said: “The college has suggested to the DH that a transformation fund is required to fix the current and ongoing crisis facing our emergency departments, and that the £700m a year spent on locums should be diverted into such a fund.

“However, no detailed proposals have been put to or endorsed by the DH at this time. The college will be developing plans over the coming months and working with all interested parties to alleviate the problems facing our EDs and systems, and ensure the best quality care for patients.”