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A&E patients being discharged before they are admitted, warns senior medic


A growing number of patients deemed to require a hospital admission are waiting so long in A&E that they end up being discharged before being admitted to a ward, HSJ has been told.

A senior emergency clinician, who has delivered improvement support to multiple emergency departments across the NHS, said such cases have become a regular occurrence – describing it as a “terrible experience” for some patients.

The clinician, who asked not to be named, said: “I suspect every ED in the country are having patients who are spending 24 to 48 hours in ED under the care of a specialist, that in a better time they would have gone onto a ward. That’s happening every day in every department.

“If you have been seen by the ED crew and referred to the medics who say ‘you need to be admitted to hospital’, the chances are that they are sick enough that they really do need that bed.

“It’s a terrible experience [for the patients]. EDs are busy, noisy and crowded. This is not the place where, if you were feeling ill, to get better in a calm, relaxing area. This idea that somehow it’s OK because these people are not that sick, it’s pretty poor.

“It feels very much like battlefield medicine – slap a patch on and try and get them back into battle as quickly as possible. It shouldn’t be the way with civilian healthcare.”

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Source: HSJ, 23 January 2023

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