One thing is evident, the RCEM has opted for a different ‘tone’ in its press statements on A&E waiting times in Scotland from England. And of course this difference has proved to be a gift to agenda-driven reporting in what might have been regarded once as a ‘newspaper of record’.
The RCEM issued a statement on 14 October 2021 regarding the latest A&E waiting time statistics for NHS England: ‘Growing concern about the looming winter as Emergency Department performance sinks to new low’
It is notable that it makes no mention here of ‘excess deaths’ in England even though the basis of the latter calculation is originally from research in NHS England. And it’s not as if the situation in A&E in England is better than that in Scotland! On the contrary!
From the RCEM’s 14 October statement: ‘The latest Emergency Department performance figures for September 2021 published today by NHS England show the highest number of 12-hour stays on record, the highest number of four-hour stays on record, and the worst four-hour performance ever recorded.
‘Four-hour performance has deteriorated for the sixth consecutive month, once again reaching a record low. Just 64% of patients in Type 1 Emergency Departments were admitted, transferred or discharged within four-hours.
‘A record breaking 5,025 patients stayed in an Emergency Department for 12-hours or more from decision to admit to admission. This is an 80% increase on the previous month, August 2021, and it is the highest number of 12-hour stays since records began and is almost a third higher than the previous highest, recorded in January 2021. The number of 12-hour stays from time of arrival is not published but is likely to be significantly higher.’
I wonder how many have any sense of this NHS England performance from, say BBC news coverage?
But also note the last sentence quoted! The true state of waiting time performance in major A&E departments across NHS England can be consistently underplayed because of the way the waiting time data are reported – differently from NHS Scotland.
It’s also hard to establish for NHS England an exact equivalent of the numbers spending between 8 and 12 hours in A&E, the statistic used by RCEM Scotland for the ‘excess deaths’ calculation.
But in September we know that ‘‘A record breaking 5,025 patients stayed in an Emergency Department for 12-hours or more from decision to admit to admission.’ So as a minimum 75 excess deaths in just one month based on the RCEM’s calculation method? But we know that’s an underestimate of the numbers waiting beyond 12 hours AND we don’t have access to data specifically on 8-12 hour waits, an undoubtedly much higher number.
So if this ‘excess deaths’ estimate has any validity why only for the better performing NHS Scotland is it being pushed by the RCEM? What’s the RCEM up to – is something differentiating its media operation in Scotland from that elsewhere in the UK? If so, why?