No real evidence of ‘patients dying because of long waits’ as NHS Scotland sees nearly 20% more than NHS England in 4 hours

The Times

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has estimated that more than 230 people have died in Scotland this year because of long delays in emergency departments. No such data is collected so, based on their assertion that data show that for every 67 patients waiting 8-12 hours ‘one of them will come to harm’, they then just use that to divide the total waiting for that time in 2021 to come up with their 230.

This is shoogly peg statistics as any student would know.

Leaving aside the uncertainty of how ‘coming to harm’ becomes ‘die’ in the headline, doesn’t the triage system ensure that those at risk of dying have been prioritised and it is those not at risk who wait longer? Is the head of the RCEM Scotland suggesting that this does not happen for some reason and that his colleagues are making mistakes?

Finally might the London-based The Times (Scotland) offer some context?

In September 2021, NHS England’s A&E departments saw 64% within 4 hours while NHS Scotland saw 76.1%, 19% better.


3 thoughts on “No real evidence of ‘patients dying because of long waits’ as NHS Scotland sees nearly 20% more than NHS England in 4 hours

  1. Helen Puttick ( ex The Herald ) is the Times equivalent of the BBC’s Lisa Summers as regards Doom -mongering in the Scottish NHS .
    You have as much chance of winning the Euro Lottery as finding a half supportive article about Scotland’s Health service from this source .
    She couches her ”facts” with a disingenuous lack of clarity which obscures the true state of affairs .
    She is an out-and-out propagandist for the union cause .

    Liked by 5 people

  2. 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?


    Liked by 1 person

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