Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s medical director, recently announced plans to establish a two-tier accident and emergency service in order to alleviate “intense, growing and unsustainable pressure” on the current system.

The transformation includes the concentration of specialist expertise, in areas such as stroke and serious trauma, in fewer hospitals over the next three to five years.

While none of the current A&E departments in England will close under the new blueprint, around 40 to 70 A&Es will become “major emergency centres”. The remaining centres will deal with issues requiring less specialist care.

According to NHS England’s Urgent and Emergency Care Review, there were ‘over 1 million avoidable emergency hospital admissions last year’.

The proposals were announced just days after healthcare regulator, Monitor, revealed that nearly one in four walk-in centres closed in England over the last three years.

Blame should not be placed on individuals

Linda Millband, a clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons, said: “Our serious injury team works with people who have suffered catastrophic injuries and need immediate access to specialist medical attention. We welcome any proposals that ensure the right care is available to the right people quickly and efficiently, but whether this plan will help to relieve pressures on the NHS is questionable.

“It doesn't help if all the NHS's challenges are blamed on the individual. Those who are unwell don't plan to be so and will head for the nearest NHS facility. If the government persists with forcing walk-in centres to close - as was revealed this week - pressure will shift to other areas of the NHS.

“The bottom line is that the government needs to ensure that greater funding and resources are in place to support staff and provide a quality service for patients.”