Emergency departments face “deepening crisis”

FOUR-HOUR performance in UK Emergency Departments fell to 56.3 per cent in week two of December 2021, which is the lowest ever recorded.

The latest data from The Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s Winter Flow Project 2021/22 also shows that as of week two of December there were 56,096 patients delayed by 12 hours or more from time of arrival in emergency departments. Last year’s Winter Flow Project 2020/21 reported that the 50,000 mark for 12-hour stays was not reached until February week three.

Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, commented: "The data show a deepening crisis. It is hard to communicate the enormous strain NHS staff are under and how deeply the pressures affect patient care. The latest Winter Flow Project report details some of the harrowing conditions patients find themselves in and conditions in which staff are delivering care. This winter is already far worse than last winter, with the coming weeks set to take us deeper into crisis.

"Trusts are already doing all they can, opening every last bed where safely possible. The government must ensure adequate support is given to social care, as difficulties in discharging patients following their treatment has knock-on effects throughout the system and causes exit block in Emergency Departments, ambulances handover delays, and prevents ambulance crews from returning to the community and responding to emergencies."

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