Improved emergency waiting times "promising"

  • Date: 15 May 2023

THE number of patients spending 12 hours or more in emergency departments from time of arrival fell by 30.5 per cent from March to April 2023, according to statistics from NHS England.

Four-hour performance at major emergency departments was 60.9 per cent. This represents a 4.1 percentage point increase from March 2023 and 1.9 percentage point increase from April 2022.

The percent of patients waiting four hours in an emergency department from decision to admit to admission (trolley waits) decreased by 14 per cent from April 2022.

Dr Adrian Boyle, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “The improvement in performance is welcome and indicates early signs of a long road to recovery.

“Bed occupancy remains at a dangerous level, significantly higher than the recommended safe level of 85 per cent, as there continue to be high numbers of ‘trolley’ waits. High bed occupancy levels and ‘trolley’ waits are closely linked as delays in discharging patients mean we are unable to admit patients to a bed, causing delays for patients and poor flow through our hospitals. The system continues to be gridlocked.

“It is vital that NHS England implement its Urgent and Emergency Care delivery plan: expanding the bed base; increasing clinical input into NHS 111; and reducing the high bed occupancy and long patient stays in hospitals by improving discharges. These continue to be urgent priorities that must be sustained, we will be looking closely at the implementation of these measures.

“We are disappointed and puzzled to see that the number of general and acute beds available at Type 1 acute Trusts has actually fallen by 1,600 despite NHS England’s pledge in January to open 5,000 more by next winter – this is evidently a step in the wrong direction that will only exacerbate the delays in emergency care.”

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