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‘We are seeing the sharp demise of the health service’, RCEM says as 30,000 patients wait more than 12-hours in A&Es in England in July

11 August 2022

Responding to the latest Emergency Department performance figures published by NHS England for July 2022, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Adrian Boyle said:

“These performance figures are worse than we could have ever expected for a summer month. There were nearly 30,000 12-hour waits (measured from decision to admit to admission) in July 2022, that is more than 3.5 times the total number of 12-hour waits for the whole of 2019.

“This is only the Tip of the Iceberg as the true number of 12-hour waits, measured from time of arrival, is much higher. We urgently need transparency for the scale of the crisis, only then will everyone recognise the reality of the situation and begin to take critical action. We urge NHS England to commit to publishing this data (which is already collected by all Trusts) monthly with immediate effect.

“The crisis is escalating quickly, and health workers are seriously concerned about the quality of care being provided, especially as we exit summer and head into winter. The system is struggling to perform its central function: to deliver care safely and effectively. This is a whole-system problem and requires a whole-system approach. There must be total focus on promoting flow throughout the hospital and priority around our ability to provide an NHS that helps patients in an emergency. We must ensure patients are discharged in a timely way, so beds are freed and patients in A&Es are able to move through the system and be treated. Flow and discharge rely heavily on an effective social care service that has sufficient workforce – the government must get to grips with this.

“Across the UK we urgently need 13,000 beds to drive meaningful improvement: in Emergency Medicine in England there is a shortfall of 2,000-2,500 Consultants as well as widespread shortages of nurses, trainees, SAS doctors and junior and supporting staff. The social care workforce must also be bolstered, which can be achieved by giving these core workers a fair wage that respects and recognises the value of their role. Retention of all health and social care workers is vital, staff are burned out and exhausted, and some are considering their careers.

“We are seeing the sharp demise of the health service and we are seeing little to no political will to act on or acknowledge the crisis – neither of the leadership candidates seem to recognise the scale of the crisis at hand. Winter is looming, which will bring a wave of flu and covid and increased footfall in Emergency Departments, with the data as dire as it is today and the scale of patient harm already occurring, we dread to think how much worse things could get for patients. In winter four-hour performance typically decreases while the number of 12-hour waits significantly increases. We may reach a point where only half of patients are seen or treated within four-hours and see an even higher number of 12-hour waits.”

Notes to editor

The latest Emergency Department performance figures published by NHS England for June 2022 for show:

  • There were 1,385,080 attendances at major Emergency Departments
    • There were 2,163,779 total attendances at all Emergency Care facilities
  • 29,317 patients were delayed for 12 hours or more from decision to admit to admission, this is just over 3.5 times higher than the total number of 12-hour waits over the whole of 2019
    • This is the highest number of 12-hour waits on record
    • This is a one third increase compared to the previous month, June 2022, or an increase of over 7,000 12-hour waits
    • There have now been 150,014 12-hour waits (from decision to admit to admission) so far this year
  • Four-hour performance at major Emergency Departments was 57.0%, this is the worst four-hour performance on record
    • More than 2 in 5 patients were delayed by four-hours or more
  • Type 1 admissions stood at 358,284 (a daily average of 11,575
  • 136,221 patients spent more than four hours in an Emergency Department from decision to admit to admission (also referred to as ‘trolley waits’)
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