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MPs to scrutinise claims over link between excess deaths and NHS pressures

MPs to scrutinise claims over link between excess deaths and NHS pressures

The Health and Social Care Committee will probe whether pressures on emergency care are contributing to a high number of excess deaths.

It comes after Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, spoke publicly about long waits in A&E leading to patient deaths.

He said as many as 500 people a week could be dying because of delays in emergency care, over the festive period, predicting the waiting-time figures would be the worst the NHS had ever seen.

Speaking on Times Radio he said that ‘somewhere between 300-500 people are dying as a consequence of delays and problems with urgent and emergency care each week’.

Statistics on A&E attendances published on Wednesday 12 January indeed did show that more people were seeking care in December than at any point since 2011, while ambulance callouts were also at record levels. 

There were 2.28 million A&E attendances in December, almost 22% higher than the same time last year, with more than half waiting more than four hours to be seen.

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And figures from the Office for National Statistics published last week showed deaths in England and Wales are 20% higher than the five-year average for this time of year.

In a session of the Committee to be held later this month, Dr Boyle will be questioned about his suggestion that long waits in A&E were linked to increased deaths.

Senior leaders from NHS England will also be asked to appear before the Committee to give their analysis of the extent to which A&E pressures might have played a part and to examine some of the solutions to current winter pressures.

Steve Brine MP Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee said: ‘The President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has suggested that overcrowding and longer waits for emergency care could be linked to hundreds of deaths a week.

‘We’ll be probing the evidence for this alarming claim.

‘We’re also hearing from senior representatives from NHS England to ask whether they recognise these figures and to question them on solutions to relieve some of the winter pressures to ensure that fewer patients face the current intolerable situations at A&E departments.’  



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

michael miller 13 January, 2023 3:50 pm

Am I the only one thinking that following covid and the vastly raised death rates- especially in nursing and rest homes the death rates now should be lower than average now. The old frail who died prematurely of covid are not around now to die at their natural time. 🥲