Background: Over recent years ENT surgery has been subject to many internal and external pressures. These have been particularly evident in emergency service provision, leading to questions being raised over the adequacy of this service.
Objectives: A literature review was performed with the aims of 1) assessing current UK ENT emergency service provision and 2) identifying relevant areas of concern.
Results: Nationally there is a distinct lack of published research and audit into ENT emergency service provision; this needs to be addressed. According to the research which is available there is a lack of adequate ENT training and experience among the junior doctor grades. The situation is worsened by them being expected to work in a cross covering scheme with, at times, unrelated specialities. These problems appear to be compounded by issues surrounding senior level cover, importantly a lack of confidence in paediatric airway management and the impact of sub specialisation on consultant emergency skills. Finally, simple methods of providing a safety net and standardising ENT emergency care, such as inductions and guidelines are not widely implemented.
Conclusions: Major issues with current UK ENT emergency service provision have been highlighted; these problems could potentially lead to inadequate ENT emergency care and patient harm. To not act on such information could be deemed to be negligent.