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Last year’s NHS winter crisis looks set to be repeated with A&E pressures already resulting in over 400 deaths per week before Covid and Flu peak – LCP

Health Medical and public affairs Demographics

Over 400 more people will die every week because of A&E pressures between September and November, according to the latest analysis by LCP of new data. Today’s figures from NHS England shows that major A&E departments across the country are already under strain, despite the fact that admissions from Covid-19 and influenza have been at half the level seen in the same period in 2022. Today’s data now also shows a sharp increase in Covid-19 admissions, which will add to existing pressure.

The winter of 2022/23 was a difficult period for the NHS, and long waits for patients needing to access emergency care led to a substantial number of additional deaths. Based on the relationship between waiting times and 30-day mortality, last year, LCP estimated 415 additional deaths each week arising from delays between September and November 2022. Using the same methodology this year shows 407 additional deaths a week despite far fewer admissions with Covid-19.

Analysis of the data by LCP highlights:

  • There were 1.8 million attendances to major A&E departments exceeding four hours between September and November 2023, compared with 1.6 million in the same period in 2022. That is an increase of 14%.
  • Between September and November 2023, there were 417,000 patients who waited more than four hours from the decision to admit. That is similar to the same period in 2022
  • September, October and November 2023 have each seen even more 12-hour trolley waits than the corresponding months in 2022.
  • The latest national flu and Covid-19 show that hospital admissions from each have now started to increase. Covid-19 admissions are up by 27% week-on-week and influenza admissions have now also started to rise. This will only add to pressures, waiting times and additional deaths.

Stuart McDonald, Head of Longevity and Demographic Insight at LCP, commented:

“Each winter, the NHS has the challenge of seasonal influenza to contend with. Covid-19 has added to this burden – while waves can also happen at other times of year, a winter wave is to be expected, and we have seen one every year since the start of the pandemic.

“A&E departments are already in a similarly difficult position to last year despite far fewer hospital patients with Covid-19 and flu. Last year, lengthy delays in accessing emergency care led to a substantial number of additional deaths. With Covid-19 admissions increasing sharply and other respiratory illnesses starting to rise, this grim trajectory looks set to be repeated this year.”

Source: NHSE - Estimated A&E attendance and emergency admissions time series by month

More data and graphs and analysis can be seen in LCP’s blog here.

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