Royal College of Emergency Medicine Menu Menu

“A workforce plan without numbers is not a plan but a daydream”, RCEM president says

9 March 2023

Responding to the latest Emergency Department performance figures published by NHS England for February 2023, Dr Adrian Boyle, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:

“The latest data show emergency care remains in crisis. Patients continue to face extremely long waits that we know are associated with severe harm and death. Staff continue to be stretched more than ever before as morale continues to drop.

“2022 saw the worst A&E performance on record with performance in December sinking to appalling lows. While we are relieved that we have again mitigated against a repetition of December, performance in February remains poor, despite comparative improvements.

“The junior doctors’ industrial action next week is a marker that staff are stretched to their limit in a system that is not functioning as it should. Our members have an individual right to take industrial action as appropriate and it is right for them to feel valued and respected. Patient safety has long been at risk but going into this industrial action we are worried that NHS Trusts are neither ready nor prepared. We remain concerned for the safety of patients during this period. We urge both sides to begin negotiations as soon as possible, and we urge NHS Trusts to make sure they have robust plans to keep patients safe.

“The crisis in emergency care is relentless and staff are burned out and exhausted. The significant shortfall of beds and staff is driving this crisis. It is time for the government to publish the fully funded long-term workforce plan that they pledged to deliver. This must include meaningful workforce projections and figures – a workforce plan without numbers is not a plan but a daydream. This plan must begin with retaining our highly-skilled and highly-competent existing staff in Emergency Medicine who are desperate and struggling and whom we risk losing.”

Notes to editor

The latest Emergency Department performance figures published by NHS England for February 2023 for show:

  • There were 1,207,446 attendances at major Emergency Departments
    • This represents a 2% increase compared with Feb 2022
    • Type 1 Emergency Departments saw 43,123 attendances per day during February. This means attendances increased between January and February by 7.4% per this measure.
  • 34,976 patients were delayed for 12-hours or more from decision to admit to admission
    • This is the fifth highest number of 12-hour waits on record
    • This is a fall of 18.2% from January, although this is partly due to February being a short month
    • This is a 113% increase from February 2022.
  • Four-hour performance at major Emergency Departments was 56.8%
    • This is the fourth worst four-hour performance on record
    • This is a 1.3 percentage point decrease from January 2023 and a 4.1 percentage point decrease from February 2022.
  • Type 1 admissions stood at 339,795
    • This is a daily average of 12,135 which is an increase of 3.2% from January
  • 1% of Type 1 attendances were admitted, this is a 1.2 percentage point decrease from January 2023
  • 126,948 patients spent more than four hours in an Emergency Department from decision to admit to admission (also referred to as ‘trolley waits’) this is a 5% increase from February 2022

Beds data for February 2023 show:

  • Last month, there were 99,388 general and acute beds available, a decrease of 0.7% from January. This is the biggest fall in available G&A beds since February 2021 (0.9%).
  • The occupancy rate was 94.3%, the same figure as January.

Five priorities for UK Governments to #ResuscitateEmergencyCare:

Back to top Back to top