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Summer provides no respite for over-stretched Emergency Departments

20th June 2024

The days of the summer months providing busy Emergency Departments with some respite are long gone as the latest performance figures for Welsh A&Es reveals continuing high levels of demand.

That’s the response of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine to new data released today by the Welsh Government, and covering May 2024.

The figures show last month:

  • 70,188 people attended a major Welsh A&E department – this is up 8.5% on the previous month (64,700)
  • Of these:
    • 44.1% of patients (more than 2/5) waited four hours or longer (up 10.6% on April 2024)
    • 23.2% (more than 1/5) than of people waited more than eight hours (up 0.5% on last month), and
    • 14.5% of patients (more than 1/7) had to endure waits of more than 12 hours (up 0.3% from April).

The target is that 95% of patients should be seen, discharged or admitted within four hours. In Wales in May it was 58.6%.

When taking a longer view the number of patients having to wait more than four hours has almost doubled since 2017, for eight hour waits it has tripled, and for the longest waits of 12 hours or more the number of people as gone up four times.

Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in Wales, Dr Rob Perry said: “it used to be the case that the summer months provided some small respite from the additional seasonal pressure we experience in our Emergency Departments.

“But those days are long gone. There is no let-up in the crisis whatever time of the year. In May we saw a quite marked increase in the number of patients attending our departments and unsurprisingly this has resulted in a reduction in performance across the board.

“While we welcome the Welsh Government’s stated commitment to tacking the crisis in Wales’ EDs, and the work that it has started, it must press on with real urgency.

“If this is where we are in summer – I dread to think what the situation will be come winter.”

Graphs of the data can be found on the RCEM website.

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