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Recovery must not be isolated to elective care RCEM says

17 February 2022

The latest Emergency Department performance figures for January 2022 published by the Welsh government show:

  • There were 57,667 attendances to major Emergency Departments (a decrease of 0.2 percentage points on the previous month, December 2021)
    • This is the lowest number of attendances since March 2021
  • More than one in six patients were delayed by 12 hours or more at a major Emergency Department, equal to 8,927 patients
  • More than two in five patients were delayed by four hours or more at a major Emergency Department, equal to 23,343 patients
  • Over one in four patients were delayed by eight hours or more at a major Emergency Department, equal to 13,796 patients
  • Four-hour performance at major Emergency Departments was 59.5%, a 1.3 percentage point increase compared to the previous month, December 2021
    • This is the lowest January four-hour performance on record
  • Bed occupancy reached a record high at 91%, an increase of 4% compared to December 2021

Responding to these figures, Dr Suresh Pillai, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Wales, said:

“The data show the continued poor performance and severe delays in Wales – despite January 2022 seeing the lowest attendances since March 2021. More than one in six patients were delayed by 12 hours or more, with equally high numbers delayed by eight hours or more. We know long waits threaten patient safety and may even cause harm or death. These long waits knock-on throughout the system, with ambulances queueing outside Emergency Departments unable to return to the community and respond to urgent and emergency calls.

“These performance figures come as waiting lists reach a record high, with one in five of the Welsh population on the Welsh NHS waiting list, equal to 680,000 people. Meanwhile social care remains in crisis, leading to an increase in long-stay patients and preventing them from being discharged in a timely way and returning home. This causes exit block leading to poor flow through the system and dangerously crowded Emergency Departments where patients face long delays.

“We are deeply concerned about the current state of the health service in Wales. Without effective action urgent and emergency care will fall deeper into crisis, and the elective care waiting lists will continue to grow.

“It is vital that when the Welsh government publish their plan to tackle to the NHS elective care backlog, an Urgent and Emergency Care recovery plan is published alongside. The health service must be viewed as a whole, and it is crucial that any recovery plan is not isolated to elective care.”

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