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As hospital activity increases, the health service must have the tools it needs to cope, RCEM says

13 May 2021

Emergency Department (ED) performance figures published today by NHS England for April 2021 show the highest number of attendances at Type 1 Emergency Departments this year and the highest since January 2020.

In April 2021, there were 1,259,983 attendances at Type 1 EDs, an increase of eight percentage points compared to March 2021, equal to nearly 100,000 patients.

The data show that 78.8% of patients stayed less than four hours in a Type 1 Emergency Department before being admitted, transferred, or discharged, a decrease of 1.2 percentage points on the previous month.

Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:

“Hospital activity has already risen and will continue to rise; we know departments are becoming much busier. An increase in attendances means an increase in pressure and covid is still a danger. The Prime Minister himself recognised covid still poses a threat with a risk of variants spreading through the community and a potential surge in hospitalisations in the late summer and as we begin to approach winter.

“While we are pleased to hear that there will be an inquiry into the pandemic, before we reach Spring 2022, the health service faces a series of major and urgent challenges on multiple fronts. The NHS and its staff are still recovering from the pandemic, there are growing numbers of patients on waiting lists, and there is no clear workforce plan.

“With these challenges ahead, there is no time to lose. We cannot once again be under-prepared and under-resourced as we approach the next set of challenges. We must be ready. And staff must have confidence that they and their departments have the tools and resources they need to cope with potentially huge system demand towards the end of this year. The College has outlined recommendations in Summer to Recover: Winter Proofing the Urgent and Emergency Care system for 2021 that can be taken to ready Emergency Departments. If we leave it too late, the health service and its workforce will once again be pushed to its limit.

“Busy, but under resourced EDs, will result in capacity issues which could lead to further delays to elective care operations; if there aren’t enough beds, we may find that those earmarked for operations have to be used for emergency patients. The whole system is interconnected, and as we recover in the coming months, we must have a clear strategy to support the entire Health and Social Care service. Without a clear plan the challenges ahead will pose a serious threat to patient care and patient health.”


Notes to Editor


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