Royal College of Emergency Medicine Menu Menu

‘Patient safety is being ignored by politicians’, says RCEM  

13 June 2024

Patient safety is being ignored by politicians. This is the response from The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) as party manifestos fail to give much detail on urgent and emergency care in their pledges. 

The news comes as NHS performance data for England shows one in 10 people waited over 12 hours in A&E in May.  

In his speech responding to the announcement of a general election in July, leader of the Labour party Sir Keir Starmer highlighted the sad reality of people being treated on trolleys in A&E due to hospital overcrowding.  

However, reducing ambulance handover delays and extreme A&E waits are not clearly listed in the party’s health priorities in their manifesto released today – Thursday 13 June.  

The Conservative party manifesto released on Tuesday made only a loose reference “improvements” in Emergency Care.  

RCEM has called this a “serious omission” and has called for greater clarity in how parties would tackle extended A&E wait times, were they to gain power.  

The scale of the issue is made clear by monthly performance data, released today by NHS England which reveals for hospitals in England in May:  

  • One in 10 people waited 12 hours or longer in A&Es, a total of 145,094. 
  • A total 751,064 patients have waited 12 hours or more this year. 
  • In May, hospitals were 93.4% full, requiring 9,848 more beds to bring this figure down to levels considered ‘safe’ (85%.) 
  • More than half (53.3%) of patients who were ready to be discharged, were unable to due to a lack of social care provisions. 

Dr Adrian Boyle, President of RCEM said: “The lack of focus on extremely long waits in A&E are a serious omission in protecting public health and are frankly very disappointing.  

“We have long campaigned to raise awareness of the dangers of extremely long A&E waits for patients, particularly the older and more vulnerable. Long waits resulted in 267 excess deaths each week in 2023. How this is not a priority for those in power is very difficult to understand.  

“We do welcome the acknowledgement of the need for a more joined up working between the health and social care sectors. This would be essential in improving discharge rates and ensuring the safe movement of people through the hospital system.  

“However, we urgently ask for more clarity in ensuring exactly how the next government, whoever this may be, will reduce the extended A&E wait times that are currently being endured by an exhausted workforce and patients who deserve far better.”  

The full data set can be found here. A graphical representation can be found here.  

Back to top Back to top