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RCEM Wales: Performance deteriorates further, as crisis looms

22 July 2021

Emergency Department performance figures published today by the Welsh Government for June 2021 show the worst four-hour performance ever recorded and one in twelve patients delayed by 12-hours or more in a major Emergency Department in Wales.

The data show in June 2021 there were 70,325 attendances to major Emergency Departments. This is an increase of 4%, equal to nearly 3,000 patients, when compared to May 2021, and an increase of 27% when compared to June 2020. It is the highest number of attendances since October 2019.

Four-hour performance is at its lowest since records began at 61.8% for June 2021, a decrease of 1.3 percentage points when compared to May 2021. Nearly 27,000 patients were delayed by four-hours or more in a major Emergency Department in Wales.

The data also show that in June 2021 5,887 patients were delayed by 12-hours or more in major Emergency Departments in Wales, this is equal to nearly one in twelve patients.

Dr Suresh Pillai, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Wales, said:

“The situation is becoming seriously difficult. Attendances continue to rise and rise, and staff are struggling to keep up with demand. The situation is unsustainable.

“There are increased staff absences due to staff isolating with covid or needing to isolate, and other staff on leave, needing a break, after many months of intense work. But the result is fewer staff are managing more patients every shift.

“Capacity remains reduced due to infection prevention control measures, so our departments are becoming dangerously crowded. Crowding was a serious danger to patient safety before the pandemic, now this threat is increased due to covid and potential transmission in Emergency Departments.

“The College recently ran a workforce survey that found three in five Emergency Medicine staff have experienced burnout, stress and/or exhaustion throughout the pandemic. As a result, 50% of Emergency Medicine staff are considering reducing their hours while a quarter are considering a career break. Analysis by the College has found that the workforce in Wales needs 100 additional consultants to safely staff Emergency Departments in Wales.

“The pressures on the urgent and emergency care system have increased rapidly and it is likely that these pressures will soar further as we approach autumn and winter 2021. The government in Wales must see the potential crisis that is looming. Emergency Departments are the safety-net of the system and the safety-net for patients, and if they become overwhelmed it is patients who would suffer.

“We urgently need investment in emergency care, we need initiatives that focus on improving discharge, and we need a long-term workforce plan that will adequately staff our Emergency Departments. Finally, we need a plan to prepare the health and social care service in Wales for the upcoming winter. We must prepare, otherwise a crisis may come that will overwhelm Emergency Departments and staff.”


Notes to editor

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