A&E attendance highest among poor amidst growing strain on hospitals

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TWICE as many patients in England attended A&E from the 10 per cent of the population living in the most deprived areas compared with the least deprived 10 per cent in 2018-19, according to figures released by NHS Digital.

The figures also show that attendances for the 20 per cent of the population living in the most deprived areas accounted for 27 per cent of all A&E attendances (5.9 million).

The NHS Digital’s Hospital Accident and Emergency Activity 2018/19 report also reveals that Monday is the busiest day of the week and the most popular time of arrival is between 10am and 12pm, and the number of re-attendances to A&E within seven days was 1.9 million and accounted for 8.7 per cent of all reported attendances

Patients arriving from 8am to 10am generally spent the shortest time in A&E, with 16 per cent arriving between 8am and 8:59am spending one hour or less. Around 1.5 per cent (330,000) of all attendances in 2018/19 spent more than 12 hours in A&E.

There was a four per cent increase in attendances to A&E during 2018-19 over the previous year, and a 21 per cent increase since 2009-10. This represents an average growth per year over the ten year period of two per cent compared with the England population average growth of one per cent per year.

This report comes as latest NHS performance figures show that A&E departments faced their busiest August on record. President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Taj Hassan, said: "It's worrying that we have not seen any respite, let alone signs of recovery, this summer in terms of performance.

"Four-hour performance at major departments has dropped by 5.6 percentage points compared to the same month last year, and the number of patients waiting over four-hours for a bed has gone up by 40 per cent.

"While the recent spending review will help in the long term, it will not immediately undo the years of damage done by austerity. In the short-term hospitals – not just EDs – must do all they can to free up beds to prevent long corridor waits.”