RCEM: "We have a serious problem in Urgent & Emergency Care"

8 July 2021

Emergency Department performance figures published today by NHS England for June 2021 show the highest number of Type 1 attendances ever recorded, the worst four-hour performance for the month of June, and the highest ever number of total emergency admissions for the month of June.

The data show that in June 2021 1,436,613 patients attended Type 1 Emergency Departments, the highest ever figure since records began.

A total of 400,826 patients were admitted via Type 1 Emergency Departments, the highest ever recorded figure for the month of June.

Four-hour performance in Type 1 departments was 73.2% which is by far the lowest June percentage on record.

1,289 patients were delayed by 12-hours or more in an Emergency Department – almost double the figure of the previous month. It is also the highest ever recorded figure for the month of June, and almost triple the previous highest figure for June recorded in 2019.

Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:

“We have a serious problem in urgent and emergency care. We are deeply concerned. We are facing record breaking figures in the high summer. We can only begin to imagine what this winter may bring.

“We are facing record breaking attendances with a tired workforce and fewer beds; it is seriously challenging. Busy departments are a threat to patient safety, it increases the chance of crowding and corridor care, this risk is significantly increased if covid and non-covid patients are sharing the space for long periods of time.

“We ask that there is a transparent discussion about how the whole of the health service deals with the current levels of demand. Emergency care does not happen in a vacuum but is often the canary of the system. Managing demand in Primary care, the elective backlog and what is happening at the front doors of hospitals is all connected and there is urgent need for a plan that balances these needs in a way everyone can understand.

“The data show what is happening on the ground, and it is likely that things will worsen in the coming months, especially as we enter the winter. The government must realize there is a looming crisis and take swift and urgent action – this is critical ahead of Winter.

“Hospitals can only do all they can to boost capacity, in the face of serious resourcing constraints. And we would ask patients to only attend Emergency Department if they need urgent and emergency care, and seek alternative care, like from their GP or NHS 111, if they have a minor injury or mild condition.

“Despite now being in the middle of summer, our Summer to Recover: Winter-Proofing Urgent and Emergency Care for 2021 contains the necessary actions the government and the NHS can take ahead of Winter.

“If no action is taken, we may soon be in the middle of a crisis worse than any previous winter.”

Notes to editor

Summer to Recover: Winter-Proofing Urgent and Emergency Care for 2021