A&E waiting times get worse

The number of people waiting for prolonged periods at A&E in hospitals across Essex has significantly worsened in the past year.

The latest A&E figures for Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Broomfield, Southend and Basildon hospitals, have seen the percentage of patients waiting four hours or less in type 1 emergency departments fall to 64 per cent from a level of 80.1 per cent seen last August.

This is despite the total number of people being seen as type 1 patients actually falling from 29,671 to 28,395 in that time.

The number of patients spending more than 12 hours waiting to be admitted increased between those two dates from zero in August 2021 to four in August 2022 at Mid and South Essex and from 13 to 124 at PAH.

Nationally there were 1,304,378 attendances at major Emergency Departments of which 28,756 patients were delayed for 12 hours or more from decision to admit to admission. This is the second highest number of 12-hour waits on record, just 561 short of the previous record in July 2022

Four-hour performance at major Emergency Departments was 58.0%, this is the second worst four-hour performance on record, the lowest was recorded the previous month, July 2022.

President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said: “The data is stark. We are worried about the coming winter. These are the second worst data on record.

“Too many patients are waiting too long. We know long waits contribute to patient harm. In August over 29,000 patients waited over 12 hours after a decision to admit was made, with some patients waiting up to three days for a bed.

“We think the consequence of this is shown in the ONS data as 500 excess deaths a week. We must not accept these long stays as normal. We need to see leadership and meaningful action that gets to grips with this crisis.

“We urge the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, and incoming Health and Social Care Secretary, Therese Coffey, to make tackling the crisis in Emergency Care a priority.

“The scale of patient harm occurring is shocking. The Emergency Care system is failing to its core functions; it is vital that we mitigate the impact of this crisis ahead of winter and do all we can to keep patients safe and reduce these dangerous waiting times.

“The Prime Minister and Health Secretary must urgently bolster the social care workforce. Thousands of beds are occupied by patients who are medically fit to be discharged, but the lack of social care service means that getting patients home is a slow and complex process.

“This means that hospitals have difficulty in discharging patients in a timely way, leading to exit block, poor flow throughout the hospital and subsequent problems in Emergency Departments and ambulance waits. The need for investment in social care couldn’t be clearer.

“Staff are exhausted, overwhelmed and in the midst of the worst crisis the NHS has ever faced. Widespread shortfalls of staff across all grades and departments mean health care workers are spread increasingly thinly and more prone to burnout – there are currently around 130,000 vacancies in the NHS almost 10% of its workforce.

“The Prime Minister must deliver the fully funded long-term NHS workforce plan that the government pledged to deliver in 2019. Emergency Care is in crisis and there is a shortfall of 2,000 to 2,500 Emergency Medicine consultants and widespread shortages of vital nursing staff, trainees, SAS doctors and junior and supporting staff are contributing to the challenges.”

A spokesperson for Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our hospitals have experienced particularly high demand for their services recently, with many arriving at A&E by ambulance, reflecting just how busy local NHS and social care providers are.

“We are all working together as a system to respond to this higher demand for services, so that we can provide the best possible care for our patients.”

Advertisement

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter