The president of the Catholic Medical Association (UK) has praised A&E medics for dealing with a significant increase in patients over the summer months but warned that services can’t cope with such demands indefinitely.
Dr Dermot Kearney insisted that “the real reasons” for the increase in demands on A&E services needs addressing.
Dr Kearney’s comments come in response to reports that new NHS figures show the number of patients waiting more than four hours to be admitted to A&E has risen more than a third in a year and is at a record high.
The number of patients seen after four hours was 275,526 last month compared to 208,083 in July 2018, an increase of 32.4 per cent, NHS performance statistics show.
There were 57,694 A&E patients waiting more than four hours in July from decision to admit to admission – a rise of 34.7 per cent from the same month last year.
This is also the highest number for July since current records began in August 2010.
Of these, 436 patients waited more than 12 hours – 192.6 per cent higher than July 2018.
This July, which saw record temperatures, also saw a record number of people visit A&E, with 2,266,913 attendances.
The previous highest number of attendances was in July 2018 (2,179,896).
The number of emergency admissions rose 4.6 per cent from the previous year, with 554,069 in July.
”While there seems to have been a significant increase, at least temporarily in the summer months, in numbers of patients waiting in A&E departments for more than four hours, it is more significant that record numbers of patients have been assessed and treated over that same period. The figures confirm that front-line A&E services have been under tremendous pressure but departments, by and large, have coped incredibly well in dealing with this increased pressure,” Dr Kearney told The Catholic Universe.
“There is no room for complacency, however, as the services can not cope with such demands indefinitely. The real reasons for the increased demands on A&E services need to be addressed and it seems that the main problem requiring attention is the insufficient primary care and community-based services that drives patients to emergency departments for all types of perceived ailments, including those that are neither accidents nor emergencies,” he added.
Meanwhile, an NHS spokesman said: “A&E doctors, nurses, paramedics and other staff have pulled out all the stops to deal with the record heat and record number of attendees over July, treating the highest number of patients ever within four hours – and on average 2,300 more people a day within four hours than in June.
“At the same time, a record number of people have benefited from fast cancer checks or treatment for psychosis and eating disorders over the last three months, while millions more people have benefited from routine tests and treatments over the last year.”
Picture: File photo dated 21/05/13 of a sign for an Accident and Emergency department at an NHS hospital. (Chris Radburn/PA).