New data released by NHS England shows that A&E department started the year under immense pressure and there is no sign of improvement.
With the Royal College of Emergency Medicine warning that patients are the ones paying the price for Government inaction.
The NHSE A&E Performance data for January 2024 – released today 8 February 2024 – shows that 1,397,645 people attended a major English A&E during the first month of the year.
And that of those, an increasing number faced long waits – with more than 45% having to wait four hours or more.
The figures for people who endured extreme waits is even more shocking with 177,805 patients facing delays of 12-hours or more from their time of arrival.
Separate Winter Sit Rep Data also from NHSE which covers 29 January 2024 to 4 February 2024 indicate there is not sign of the pressure on the system letting up with bed occupancy at 94.9% (up from 94% for the whole of January) with the safe level being considered to be 85%.
The number of people admitted for flu is also up on the previous week and up significantly from this time last year. The data also reveals that thousands (24,372) of hours were lost because of delayed ambulance handovers during the week.
Dr Ian Higginson, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “This is appalling.
“The continued failure by the Government to strategically invest and plan based on the reality on the front line, and of NHSE to focus efforts where we know the greatest impact will be, is impossible to understand. Especially when faced with data which clearly charts the continued deterioration in our overcrowded Emergency Departments.
“To fix it we need enough beds in our hospitals so that patients who need one can get into one. Those beds need staff. And we need to get to the point where the only patients in hospital are the ones who need to be there. It really is not Rocket Science.
“Focusing on the same ineffective demand and crisis management, whilst expecting different results, is pointless. A year on the Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan, there is no recovery in sight. Flu won’t help, but we would still be in a mess without it.
“All the spin in the world doesn’t change the basic picture. The data is clear, and we must remember each data point is a patient. Sadly they are the ones paying the price, along with our increasingly frustrated and tired EM clinicians. Without them we really would be in trouble.”
NHSE – Winter Sit Rep Reports