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RCEM responds to EMJ article that reveals five hour + waits increase risk of death

18 January 2022

Responding to the latest article in the Emergency Medicine Journal ‘Association between delays to patient admission from the emergency department and all-cause 30- day mortality’, Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College Emergency Medicine, said:

“We welcome this paper, which adds to the evidence of what we have long warned – that long-waiting times present a serious threat to patient safety.

“Performance in Emergency Departments has been in decline for many years now, while waiting times have risen significantly; the risk to patient safety is a growing problem. It is unacceptable and deeply concerning. No patient should be kept waiting to be admitted to a bed.

“As the paper mentions, long delays are usually caused by ‘exit block’ – where patients cannot move onto the next stage of their care due to capacity problems outside of the Emergency Department. We must eliminate this and is consequent practice, corridor care, urgently. To do this will require long term resourcing; the government must commit to publishing a long-term workforce plan for the health service and take effective steps to address the ongoing social care crisis.

“The study also confirms that policy makers should continue to mandate timely admission from the Emergency Department to protect patients from hospital associated harm. We absolutely agree with this and must see this as part of a framework of metrics that drive improvement. We are currently in a performance vacuum, with a lack of clarity on what staff should focus on, yet month-on-month decline in performance is met by inaction. It is patients and their care that suffer most.”

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