Royal College of Emergency Medicine Menu Menu

New Prime Minister must show leadership and get to grips with crisis in Emergency Care

8 September 2022

Responding to the latest Emergency Department performance figures published by NHS England for August 2022, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said:

“The data is stark. We are worried about the coming winter. August saw the second worst four-hour performance and the second highest number of 12-hour waits since records began. Too many patients are waiting too long. We know long waits contribute to patient harm. In August over 29,000 patients waited over 12 hours after a decision to admit was made, with some patients waiting up to three days for a bed. We think the consequence of this is shown in the ONS data as 500 excess deaths a week. We must not accept these long stays as normal. We need to see leadership and meaningful action that gets to grips with this crisis.

“We urge the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, and incoming Health and Social Care Secretary, Therese Coffey, to make tackling the crisis in Emergency Care a priority. The scale of patient harm occurring is shocking. The Emergency Care system is failing to its core functions; it is vital that we mitigate the impact of this crisis ahead of winter and do all we can to keep patients safe and reduce these dangerous waiting times.

“The Prime Minister and Health Secretary must urgently bolster the social care workforce. Thousands of beds are occupied by patients who are medically fit to be discharged, but the lack of social care service means that getting patients home is a slow and complex process. This means that hospitals have difficulty in discharging patients in a timely way, leading to exit block, poor flow throughout the hospital and subsequent problems in Emergency Departments and ambulance waits. The need for investment in social care couldn’t be clearer.

“Staff are exhausted, overwhelmed and in the midst of the worst crisis the NHS has ever faced. Widespread shortfalls of staff across all grades and departments mean health care workers are spread increasingly thinly and more prone to burnout – there are currently around 130,000 vacancies in the NHS almost 10% of its workforce. The Prime Minister must deliver the fully funded long-term NHS workforce plan that the government pledged to deliver in 2019. Emergency Care is in crisis and there is a shortfall of 2,000-2,500 Emergency Medicine consultants and widespread shortages of vital nursing staff, trainees, SAS doctors and junior and supporting staff are contributing to the challenges.”

Notes to editor

The latest Emergency Department performance figures published by NHS England for August 2022 for show:

  • There were 1,304,378 attendances at major Emergency Departments
    • There were 1,988,779 total attendances at all Emergency Care facilities
  • 28,756 patients were delayed for 12 hours or more from decision to admit to admission
    • This is the second highest number of 12-hour waits on record, just 561 short of the previous record in July 2022
    • There have now been 178,770 12-hour waits (from decision to admit to admission) so far this year
  • Four-hour performance at major Emergency Departments was 58.0%, this is the second worst four-hour performance on record, the lowest was recorded the previous month, July 2022
    • More than 2 in 5 patients were delayed by four-hours or more
  • Type 1 admissions stood at 350,618 (a daily average of 11,310)
  • 130,528 patients spent more than four hours in an Emergency Department from decision to admit to admission (also referred to as ‘trolley waits’)
  • Bed occupancy stood at 92.8% (far higher than the recommended 85%)

Hopsital Episodic Statistics for July 2022 published by NHS Digital show:

  • The longest wait in an Emergency Department from time of arrival until treatment was 4,320 minutes or 72 hours
  • The number of patients leaving the department before being seen stood at 6.0%
  • The rate of unplanned reattendance was 9.0%
Back to top Back to top