Government can not hide behind pandemic as sole cause of ‘A&E crisis’

Sarah Scobie responds to the latest NHS performance statistics from NHS England.

Press release

Published: 16/06/2022

Responding to the latest NHS performance stats from NHS England, Nuffield Trust Deputy Director of Research Dr Sarah Scobie said:  

“The health secretary yesterday claimed the pandemic was the root cause of the ‘A&E crisis’, but the government can not hide solely behind Covid-19. In May, 40% of patients attending major A&E departments waited over four hours to be admitted, transferred or discharged. But in reality, this key target has not been met since July 2015, and the root causes can be traced back to over a decade ago. 

“While the pandemic has made the situation worse, we are reaping the rewards of a long-term squeeze on staffing and space. The new normal and the long waits illustrated by these figures go far beyond an inconvenience and put patients at considerable risk.

“Ambulance response delays are still a real concern. Patients in an emergency such as with heart attacks or strokes are not receiving help anywhere near the speed expected – one in 10 are waiting almost an hour and a half for an ambulance. This is despite ambulance staff working flat out and under intolerable pressure. These bottlenecks are experienced throughout the system with hospitals still working under infection control measures unable to discharge or admit patients fast enough.” 

Notes to editors