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No let up from ‘relentless’ A&E winter pressures, warns RCEM

15 February 2024

A&E staff are continuing to face ‘relentless pressure’ as latest data shows no sign of winter crisis abating.

That’s according to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) which has called on the Government to take urgent action address the issues being experienced in A&Es across the country.

It comes as new data shows hospitals are continuing to run at close to maximum occupancy, and the number of flu patients remains worryingly high.

The figures released today (15 February 2024) shows bed occupancy across major hospitals in England last week (5-11 February) was 94.7% – far higher than levels considered “safe” (85%).

The data, which is released weekly by NHS England over the winter also shows the number of beds occupied by flu patients increased by more than 1,600 compared with the same week last year – to a total of 2,287.

Responding, Dr Jason Long, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “Resilience in emergency care is waning under relentless pressure.

“This is one of the busiest times of year for Emergency Departments with thousands more patients in hospital compared to the same time last year.

“Staff are under enormous pressure having to put patient care first whilst dealing with the reality of overcrowding – long waits for beds to become available, queues of ambulances outside with patients requiring treatment, whilst people in desperate need face ambulance delays. There is no let-up.

“Emergency Departments throughout the UK are under-resourced, under-funded and facing unprecedented demand – we urge the Government to adopt our five priorities to #ResuscitateEmergencyCare which includes increasing and maximising bed capacity and implementing measures to retain our hardworking staff.”

Today’s data release shows:

  • Bed occupancy stood at 94.7%. An additional 11,663 beds would have been required to bring bed occupancy down to “safe levels” (85%.)
  • The number of beds occupied by flu patients stands at 2,287, which is an increase of more than 1,600 compared with the same week last year.
  • A total of 27,522 hours were lost to ambulance delays over 30 minutes, equivalent to more than three years in just one week.
  • A total of 49,277 patients occupied a bed for more than seven days, the highest on record.
  • More than half of patients (56.6%) who no longer met the criteria to reside remained in hospital.

Graphs showing the year on year comparisons can be viewed here and the full analysis of the data is available on the RCEM website.


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