All over BBC Scotland, Sandesh Gulhane (Con) and Dr John-Paul Loughrey, of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Scotland trade union, say the latest A&E delays are causing additional deaths in Scotland’s hospitals. Loughrey said they could lead to about 40 deaths in the following 30 days.
Loughrey must know this is not true while Gulhane, I feel sure, cares little for the truth.
Why is not true? A&E waiting times have been increasing for some time now yet hospital deaths have been falling.
Public Health Scotland publishes rolling monthly statements of hospital deaths within 30 days of admission, over the previous 12 months. Here are the most recent three:
- April 2021 to March 2022 – 27 912 deaths
- Jan 21 to Dec 21 – 28 365 deaths
- Oct 20 to Sep 21 28 554 – deaths
So, if increasing delays were causing additional deaths we’d see that in the data above but, in fact, we see they are falling.
Why are delays not causing additional death? Here’s why.
There is no correlation between A&E waiting times and deaths as the ambulance prioritising system and the triage system in hospitals ensure that those at risk are cared for extremely quickly. At worst, delays result in longer waiting times only for those cases in which to do so is not life-threatening. The RCEM and Gulhane know this fine well.