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'We need fewer and better staffed A&E units'

Admissions to A&E units in England have increased dramatically over the last decade, from 12 million to 21 million.

Nigel Edwards of the King's Fund told Today presenter John Humphrys that one of the problems is that the NHS is a victim of its own success, with many patients choosing A&E over their GP as minor injuries are now treated very quickly whereas it is often difficult to be treated urgently by a GP.

David Stout, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that the health service needed to look into the way they provided this care, and whether they can continue to run the number of A&E departments they have. It's not in the patients interest, he says, to have "poorly staffed" units.

If there are a fewer units they can be better staffed, David Stout explained. However, one of the big challenges, he added, is to convince politicians of this.

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