NHS Stretched By 'Avoidable' A&E Admissions

The Number Of Unnecessary A&E Visits Has Risen By 48 Per Cent In 12 Years


There has been a significant increase in the number of "avoidable" cases being handled by the UK's accident and emergency (A&E) departments in the past decade.

According to a new report conducted by the Nuffield Trust, 56 million A&E hospital admissions were recorded between 2001 and 2013 and around one in five of these were said to be unnecessary.

There were 704,153 cases where people did not require emergency help in 2001, but this has since grown to more than a million a year.

Unsurprisingly, the health service is having its resources stretched to the limit.

The Nuffield Trust believes GP's surgeries could help to reduce the burden on A&E units by managing people's health more closely.

Some of the most common conditions that emergency departments deal with include complications relating to diabetes, angina and various infections - all of which could be avoided if these illnesses were better monitored on a day-to-day basis.

Nuffield Trust chief executive Andrew McKeon said: "Given constraints in resources for the NHS and social care in the next decade, a key concern must be the extent to which the gains made in improving quality of care over the past decade may be lost."

This study followed a report by the College of Emergency Medicine, which underlined how much strain A&E departments are under.

It found that 94 per cent of emergency staff are so busy that they often exceed their planned working hours, while 62 per cent said their current workload is unsustainable in the long term.

Michael Scott, chair of the NHS Confederation's community health services forum, confirmed the A&E services offered by hospitals are currently under more pressure than ever and it is "absolutely vital" that more patients are cared for in their homes.

"It is crucial that we invest in community-based services - the experts in prevention and early intervention - so that they can deliver their full potential," he commented.

Expert Opinion
The number of avoidable admissions is clearly a major concern and something that desperately needs to be tackled.

“The NHS’s ultimate aim should be to ensure that patients get top quality care at the first time of asking, as this would not only reduce repeat visits to hospitals but also cut the number of cases which A&Es need to deal with on a daily basis.

“It is imperative that steps are taken to examine the issues raised by this research and consider how regular monitoring of conditions could be improved to cut A&E visits. The wellbeing and safety of patients must always come first.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner