BMA responds to latest winter A&E figures

By agency reporter
December 24, 2017

Responding to the latest winter weekly figures from NHS England, which show that more than 14,300 patients taken to hospital in an ambulance waited longer than half an hour to be transferred to A&E, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:“These figures show a worrying trend as hospitals increasingly struggle to cope with demand at the most challenging time of the year.

"No patient should be waiting in an ambulance unable to be moved into hospital, yet the number of people waiting more than half an hour to be transferred to A&E after arriving in an ambulance has gone up by a fifth in the last week, while the number facing delays of more than an hour has risen by more than 40 per cent.

"What is key to remember is that behind each of these statistics are sick patients not receiving timely and expert care when they need it most, and this in turn causes a backlog, leaving doctors underprepared to deal with new emergency cases coming through the doors.

“With all but five hospitals in England running at above the recommended safe bed occupancy level of 85 per cent and almost a fifth running at 99 per cent, the system has little to no capacity to handle a major flu outbreak or spike in demand caused by a cold snap over the coming weeks.

"While it is positive to hear that extra cash promised to the NHS by the government will eventually translate into extra beds and services in ‘the next few weeks’, it is likely this will fall far short of what is needed to provide safe, high quality care to patients this winter, and the timescale outlined by NHS England will provide little solace to those waiting in ambulances and corridors at this very moment. Only by providing sustainable investment at every level of the system – from general practice to social care – can this now year-round crisis be averted."

* British Medical Association https://www.bma.org.uk/

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