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Emergency Care system in South East facing relentless pressure amid crisis

14 April 2022

The latest regional monthly performance figures published by NHS England for March 2022 for the South East show:

  • There were 308,062 attendances at major Emergency Departments in the South East
    • This is an 18.5% increase on the previous month, February 2022
  • 1,278 patients were delayed for 12 hours or more from decision to admit to admission
    • This is a 130% increase on the previous month, February 2022
    • More than one in 50 of all emergency admissions were delayed by 12 hours or more
  • Four-hour performance at major Emergency Departments was 63.71%
    • This means that one in three patients were delayed by four-hours or more
  • Nearly one in three emergency admissions experienced waits of four hours or more (often referred to as ‘trolley waits’)
  • The South East region had the highest month-on-month increase of 12-hour waits in England

Dr Salwa Malik, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and South East Coast Regional Chair for The Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:

“The data show the strain that Emergency Departments in the South East are under. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, and all health care staff are facing extreme pressures. It is a seriously challenging situation. Patients are experiencing long waits in the Emergency Department waiting to be seen and, in the community, waiting for an ambulance.

“Widespread staff shortages and a huge shortfall in beds, these are causing huge delays and problems in the emergency care system. When we have no beds to move patients into, the waiting rooms fill up and ambulances begin queuing outside. Doctors and nurses have no choice but to deliver care in corridors and other inadequate spaces. These are deeply uncomfortable and unsafe practices that are distressing for patients and for staff.

“Morale is incredibly low among the South East workforce, they are overwhelmed and burnt out. Some shifts have fewer staff due to covid related absences, which spreads health care workers even more thinly. We want to deliver the best care possible, but the present circumstances are preventing us from delivering the high-quality effective care we are trained to provide.

“For things to improve in the South East the first step must be for our local Members of Parliament to work with councils and local authorities to improve and expand social care provision. Good social care supports the most elderly and vulnerable patients in their visits to A&Es and ensures a timely discharge when their treatment is complete.”


Notes to editor

A breakdown of South East regional performance at A&Es can be found here: Data published by NHS England.

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