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Emergency admissions reach record high

Emergency admissions are at their highest since records began 10 years ago, according to new figures from NHS England.

Figures for the week ending 7 December show that there were 436,229 individual attendances at A&E departments – nearly 4,000 more than week before, and over 20,000 more than at this time last year.

Last week also saw nearly 5,000 more emergency admissions than were recorded for the same week in 2013, at 110,100.

NHSE’s latest ‘winter health check’ report also shows that record numbers of patients are waiting longer for treatment in A&E departments, despite the NHS’s claims that they are ‘pulling out all the stops’ to open extra beds and seven-day services using extra winter funding provided by the Government.

While the NHS’s own target is for 95% of patients to be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours of presenting at A&E, the report also showed that only 91.8% of patients attending A&E last week met with this target – compared to 94.8% the year before.

BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said that the figures showed a system ‘cracking under extreme pressure’, and warned that GPs were struggling to cope.

He said: ‘While the NHS is used to seeing a spike in demand during winter months, this year it’s experienced a spring, summer and autumn crisis as well, leaving no spare capacity in hospitals as we hit winter.

‘This is not just a crisis in emergency care – bed shortages and high numbers of patients inappropriately in hospital beds are now major stress factors on the system, leading to unacceptable delays in treating and discharging patients. Outside of hospitals, GP surgeries are struggling to cope with unprecedented levels of demand.’

He added: ‘Patients should be treated on the basis of clinical need rather than an arbitrary target, but these figures point to a system cracking under extreme pressure, leading to unacceptable delays in care.’

Dr Barbara Hakin, national director of commissioning operations for NHS England, said: ‘Unsurprisingly, this level of demand continues to put extra pressure on our hospitals but the NHS remains resilient and is pulling out all the stops, with local hospitals, ambulances, GPs, home health services and local councils all working hard to open extra beds and seven-day services using the extra winter funding that has been made available.’

But Dr Porter said that while frontline staff were working ‘flat-out’ to meet the added demand, the system ‘can’t cope with the sheer number of patients coming through the door’.

He said: ‘So far there has been a total failure by Government to come up with a meaningful plan to deal with this – funding announced recently to tackle winter pressures is simply recycled money, taken from other overstretched services.

‘There is no getting away from the fact that the NHS needs more investment to ensure there are enough staff and resources to meet rising demand, and part of this means taking urgent action to address the high number of staff vacancies in emergency medicine as well as general practice.’

Readers' comments (18)

  • OMG the Admission Avoidance DES didn't prevent this?


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  • Vinci Ho

    5 years austerity with so called efficiency savings in all frontlines gives you what you can expect. Morale is low all around in each NHS sectors .
    Time for those who created this mess to come out with at least some honesty......

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  • Just admitted two patients to hospital in an hour. One exacerbation COPD with SATs of 88 and pulse 128; the other fainted and had severe constant chest pain.
    I actually ( and unusually ) think I have probably saved both their lives and got the first real job satisfaction for ages.
    The ambulance men and women were all fabulous and an example of the system working well.
    No tick boxes, no protocols, no forms, no patient directives, no crap...... And I genuinely think I did a good job.
    Lucky really as it was my last EVER session in general practice.

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  • Congratulations Anonymous, hope your post-GP existence is fantastic.

    A man stood at the heavenely gate,
    his face was lined and old,
    he stood before the man of fate,
    for admission to the fold.

    "What have you done?" St. Peter asked, to gain admission here
    "I've worked for the National Health Service Sir, for many and many a year"
    The pearly gate swung open wide as St. Peter touched the bell
    "Come and choose your harp good Sir, you've had your share of hell"

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  • Took Early Retirement


    Sadly, with my usual sense of schadenfreude, I am glad this is happening, though sorry for my colleagues on the sharp end of it. It will ONLY be if we have a catastrophic failure in a few parts of the country, that the govt (and DM reading public) will wake up.

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  • i have found nhs 111 is increasing ambulance call outs and admissions to a&e, and as a knock making my gp ooh shifts a bit quieter

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  • I see upcoming trauma over the next few weeks. the good will which was the glue holding the NHS together has disappeared. From GP and consultants to trainees - everyone is upset . Even though some of the trainees have no right to be but that is another issue!

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  • No one can see elephant in the room, Pumping more money in Emergency Dept will not solve this problem, to deal with this one need to invest in primary care and avoiding people turning up at A/E in first place
    Once you are in A/E will be admitted by a junior doctor/ 4 hr pressure

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  • 4:46 sadly, your misplaced optimism has already been proved wrong.

    This year, every CCG has invested money in admission prevention and yet the numbers just went up. This is exactly what been found in every well-conducted study in this area.

    Pity the poor hospitals. We're drowning in patients, 75% now in deficit, with no financial support and monitor breathing down our necks, while the money is frittered away on pipe dreams.

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  • £5 fee to see your GP or go to A&E. The cost of a packet of fags would provide unparalleled insurance in comparison with anywhere else in the world.

    Would help if there was cross party support. Little chance of that.

    Looks like the Tory & Lib Dem policy of sticking their heads in the sand and hoping the NHS doesn't implode on their watch has gone wrong. Public won't buy the Tories and Daily Mail blaming GPs for this one. Things are going to get a lot rougher for hospital consultants some of whom sneered at their GP colleagues. Brace yourselves for a media assault on their enormous packages.

    If Labour win the election watch the bond markets get spooked. The domino effect has begun. The politicians are out of their depth. The public and healthcare workers will have no choice but to go private.

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