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‘Last year was awful. Everything must be done to ensure our members and their patients do not experience the same again this winter’, RCEM says

14 September 2023

New money announced by the Government aimed at easing winter pressure on the NHS should be focused on increasing capacity in Emergency Departments and improving the admission process for those who need it.

That’s the assessment of the Royal College Emergency Medicine (RCEM) following the Government’s announcement it is to make £240m additional funding available to support the NHS during the colder months.

The funding pledge comes as the latest NHS England monthly A&E performance figures for August 2023 also published today, show:

  • The number of people who attended a major A&E was 1,323,643
  • 120,120 patients spent more than four hours in an A&E from when the decision to admit the patient was made up to admission (also referred to as ‘trolley waits’)
  • 28,859 patients were delayed for 12-hours or more after it was decided they should be admitted
  • However, the figure for those who had to wait more than 12 hours from when they arrived was 112,880 patients
    • This accounts for 8.8% of major A&E attendances
  • This is more than nearly four times larger than the number of 12-hour waits measured from when it was decided they should be admitted.
    • This figures is 16.9% higher than the previous month.
  • Only 59.1% of people were seen, admitted or allowed to go home with in four hours at major A&Es (the Government’s recovery target is 76%)
  • While the lastest beds data show a bed occupancy rate of 93.8%, which is 8.8% higher than the recommended safe level of 85%.

They come as a report by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives reveals the scale of the increase of frequency and length of hospital handover delays over the past 10 years.

President of RCEM Dr Adrian Boyle, who attended yesterday’s ‘health summit’ at Downing Street, said: “The meeting was productive. It was useful to have everyone in the room together focused on the incredibly important issue of winter and we are pleased the Government is taking it seriously.

“Today’s performance figures show very clearly why it should. Last month we saw over 1.3 million people attending A&Es, more than 112,000 people having to wait more than 12 hours in A&Es, and hospital wards filled to a level which is not considered safe.

“No patient really needs stay 12 hours in an A&E. And no patient should.

“The money announced by the Government is welcome and must be used to help address four and 12-hour stays, as well as ambulance handover delays. And on ensuring there are enough beds for patients who need to be admitted for ongoing care.

“Last year was awful; everything must be done to ensure our members and their patients do not experience the same again this winter.”

Yesterday’s meeting was hosted by the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay.

It was attended by health and care leaders and focused on how winter pressures across the NHS could be eased.

Today’s funding announcement follows the £250 million the Government pledged in July to increase capacity as part of the urgent and emergency care recovery plan.

In January the Government said it would provide 5,000 extra beds by this winter as well as 800 new ambulances.

But analysis by RCEM shows that there were actually 1,116 fewer beds available in the system between January and August 2023 than when the plan was announced.

Head to our data & statistics page to see graphs and visualizations of the latest figures:

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