Emergency Department (ED) crowding represents the greatest threat to the timely delivery of emergency care in the UK and across the world. It is present to a greater or lesser extent in many healthcare systems. Although not a new phenomenon, it has been steadily worsening over time. This does not make it inevitable.
Causes of crowding are complex and can vary between different health systems, hospitals, and over different time periods. It is a source of considerable frustration to Emergency Physicians when crowding is framed as an “ED problem.” The consistent factor in ED crowding is that the causes are in the unscheduled healthcare system, and that the solutions lie, for the most part, outside of the ED.