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Worst April on record for 12hr A&E waits must be a catalyst for change – RCEM

5 May 2024

Last month was the worst April on record when it came to the number of people forced to wait 12 hours or more in A&E.

A situation the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has called ‘dangerous and unacceptable’ and called for it to become the catalyst for change.

The latest monthly NHS performance data, released today – Thursday 9 May 2024, which covers April 2024, reveals that last month:

  • In total 1,372,028 people visited a major A&E department in England.
  • One in every 10 person who attended faced a wait of 12 hours or more (the highest for the month of April since records began in 2010.)
  • The percentage of people in a major Emergency Department who were seen within four hours was just 60.4% (down from 60.9% in March 2024). The target is 78%
  • 398,116 people were admitted via a major Emergency Department in England (also the highest for the month since records began)
  • Hospitals were 93.7% full. This is far higher than the 85% level considered to be safe – to achieve this 10,372 more beds would have been needed.

Dr Adrian Boyle, President of The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said:
“Despite plans designed to ensure that pressures on the Urgent and Emergency Care system being in place, this data once again illustrates the crisis continues.

“Waits of more than 12 hours in A&E are unacceptable. They are distressing for the people experiencing them, and demoralising for staff trying their best in hugely challenging situations. More must urgently be done to address this.

“The figures also show improvements to the four-hour standard made in March, when the Capital Incentives Scheme was operating, are already waning.

“People are stuck in A&Es receiving care in corridors because there are simply not enough in-patient beds available – with thousands every day being used by people who are well enough to go home but can’t because of a lack of adequate social care.

”Policymakers must heed these clear red flags and make them a catalyst for action by adopting our #ResuscitateEmergencyCare asks.

“Only then will these hugely dangerous delays be reduced, and the system able to function as it should – allowing patients to receive the care and treatment they need, when they need it.”

Graphic illustrations of this data are available here.

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