Public Health

07.11.18

NHS Emergency care is now in ‘all year crisis,’ BMA warns

NHS emergency care services are struggling to cope with a “year-round crisis” which is damaging patient care, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned.

The BMA’s new analysis of NHS England data shows that emergency services performed worse on key performance indicators in the summer of 2018 than it had done in five of the last eight winters.

The BMA examined monthly data on three key indicators; emergency admissions, trolley waits for more than four hours, and A&E patients seen within four hours.

It found that performances were steadily declining and the number of patients left stranded for more than four hours waiting for care on a trolley has increased year upon year, reaching a record 226,176 in 2018’s winter.

The data showed that 200,000 more patients were left stranded for more than four hours waiting for care on a trolley in the most recent winter than compared to 2011.

With performance figures for A&E waiting times and for trolley waits more than four hours this summer lower than in every winter between 2011 and 2015, the BMA warns that the NHS is now suffering from a crisis all year round.

The BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “These figures lay bare the long-term underfunding of emergency care services in England that have experienced years of declining budgets and staff shortages at a time when patient demand has rocketed.

“It is shocking that the number of patients waiting more than four hours for treatment on trollies has increased seven-fold during the winter months since 2011, with almost 200,000 more patients left in this appalling situation.

“Most worryingly, the pressure on the NHS has developed into an all year crisis. The BMA correctly predicted that the summer of 2018 would be as bad as many recent winters.”

Miriam Deakin, the director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said the BMA is right to warn that a challenging winter season lies ahead for trusts, and for staff and patients.

She said: “Traditional winter pressures are now a year-round event. The long-term plan must be opportunity to ensure local health and care systems are resourced to offer greater resilience in the face of rising demand.

“To do this, we must be realistic about what resource is required to meet patient need and recover performance.”

Image credit - tirc83

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