Responding to NHS Digital figures1 which show A&E attendances up 22 per cent in 10 years and more patients spending 12 hours in emergency departments than ever before, Dr Rob Harwood, BMA consultants committee chair, said:
“These statistics paint a bleak picture of what both staff and patients in A&E departments across the country face on a daily basis, and should serve as a warning for the future.
“They clearly show the worrying increase in demand that doctors have been warning about for some time is now a reality – yet there is no additional capacity to meet this.
“The number of patients spending more than 12 hours in A&E is now at an all-time high. This is an unacceptable amount of time for patients with urgent health needs, and for whom any wait can be both physically painful and distressing.
“As summer draws to a close, winter will present its usual problems for A&Es, with further pressure leading to even longer waits, cancelled operations and a shortage of beds. Extra capacity must therefore be built into the system, by investing in staff, resources and services, if the BMA’s projections2 of a year-long crisis are not to become the new normal.
“While doctors in hospitals across the country will endeavour to provide the best possible care in increasingly difficult circumstances, without assertive, joined up action from government and policy makers, both staff and patients will continue to bear the brunt.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
1. Find the full figures on NHS Digital’s website.
2. Read more about our projections here.