New figures leaked to HSJ show the true volume of 12-hour waiters in emergency departments is more than four times higher than official statistics suggest.
Internal NHS England figures for February and March show around one in five admissions through ED waited more than 12 hours from arriving until being admitted to a ward – equating to around 158,000 cases.
The official stats published by NHSE record a slightly different, and shorter, time period, from ‘decision to admit’ to admission. There were around 39,000 of these cases in the same two months, which equates to 4 per cent of admissions through ED, and 5.4 per cent of total emergency admissions.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has long called for the official stats to reflect the total time spent from arrival in ED (as per the internal data), and for trusts to be measured and regulated on this.
Senior medics have for some time been warning about the patient safety risks of long waiting in EDs and have appealed to NHS England and the government for plans to tackle the crisis.
Adrian Boyle, vice president of RCEM, said: “This data show the scale of long waiting times in emergency departments and the scale of the patient safety crisis. Performance continues to deteriorate across multiple metrics meaning we are documenting a failing urgent and emergency care system without any system transformation or improvement."
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Source: HSJ, 13 May 2022