I’ve just used the (poor) search facility on the BBC News website using the term ‘A&E’. There can be no doubt based on the results that the BBC is opting to run negative news stories about NHS Scotland in preference to balanced coverage of the problems being experienced in A&E departments across the UK. And it is doing so without providing context or perspective in their Scotland-based coverage.
To supplement the relevant perspective given on the 4 hour waiting time performance in the blog post above, here is information provided in a press release from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine dated 31 May 2022 (with my emphasis):
‘In April 2022 in England, 24,000 patients were delayed by 12 hours or more (from DECISION TO ADMIT TO ADMISSION), in April in Scotland, 4,000 patients faced a 12 hour wait (from TIME OF ARRIVAL), in Wales, 11,000 patients faced a 12 hour wait (from time of arrival), and in March 2022 in Northern Ireland, 8,581 patients faced a 12 hour wait (from time of arrival).’ The scale of difference revealed here between Scotland, Wales and NI is marked.
The patients waiting 12 hours or more in England were JUST waiting for a bed – a ‘trolley wait’. Importantly, on 10 March 2022 the RCEM acknowledged that: ‘NHS England currently measure 12-hour waits from decision to admit to admission. THE TRUE SCALE OF 12-HOUR WAITS IS MUCH HIGHER.’ So how long had A&E patients in England already been waiting from the time they arrived at A&E to the decision to admit them?
Those patients waiting 12 hours from first arriving at A&E in the other three nations may have been ‘delayed’ because of time taken to obtain results of diagnostic tests and/or time on a ‘trolley wait’.
Not only is NHS England performing more poorly on the 4 hour standard, it is performing very poorly over longer waits too. In a press statement dated 14 April, 2022, the RCEM noted this for NHS England in the year 2021-22:
‘A total of 98,686 patients waited for 12-hours or more from decision to admit in major Emergency Departments The number of 12-hour waits in 2021-2022 (98,686 12-hour waits) is 30 TIMES THE AMOUNT OF 12-HOUR WAITS IN THE LAST PRE-PANDEMIC YEAR, 2018-2019 (3,260 12-hour waits).
Like me, are you puzzled as to why the Tory Secretary of State for Health and Social Care is not taking advice on the remedy for all these A&E problems in England from his fellow Tory, Dr. Sandesh Gulhane, the man in Scotland with the answers? And of course we know who in the Labour opposition in Holyrood the Welsh government could turn to for the answer!