NHS facing “year-round crisis” in emergency care

EMERGENCY care services in England are suffering a “year-round crisis" with key indicators demonstrating that the summer of 2018 delivered worse levels of care to patients than five out of eight recent winters, according to recent BMA analysis.

Working with NHS England data, the BMA found that in the three summer months of 2018 (July to September), 125,215 patients were left waiting on a trolley for more than four hours after the decision to admit, a figure that was greater than every winter (defined as January to March) between 2011 and 2015.

The figures were not far behind the last three winters, which registered increasing numbers of patients stranded on trolleys at 155,277 in 2016, 177,012 in 2017 and a record 226,176 in 2018.

The BMA also found that in comparing winter 2011 and winter 2018 (January to March) compliance with the four-hour waiting target to be seen, admitted or discharged from A&E reduced from 96.6 per cent to 85.0 per cent and total trolley waits of longer than four hours increased from just 29,636 to 226,176, a seven-fold increase. Total emergency admissions increased from 1,290,056 to 1,529,087, a rise of 19 per cent.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA Council Chair, said: "These figures lay bare the long-term underfunding of emergency care services in England that have experienced years of declining budgets and staff shortages at a time when patient demand has rocketed.

"Most worryingly, the pressure on the NHS has developed into an all year crisis. The BMA correctly predicted that the summer of 2018 would be as bad as many recent winters."