The NHS has been forced to release data on hidden trolley wait times following intervention by the UK Statistics Office. The Independent have learned.
In a letter to NHS Digital and NHS England in July, Ed Humpherson, UKSA’s director-general for regulation, urged the organizations to release monthly data on patients whose total wait time in the emergency department is more than 12 hours, following an ongoing dispute with emergency care managers .
NHS England has promised to release this internal data but is yet to comply and has therefore been referred to the UKSA by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine over concerns the public data is misleading.
Last month The Independent revealed that 100,000 patients per month are now waiting 12 hours in the emergency room from the time they arrive, which is more than five times higher than figures published by NHS England.
NHS England internal figures 2019 published by the independent, measure the total time a patient has waited in the emergency department, while publicly available numbers only measure from the point at which a decision to admit was made.
Following the UKSA’s letter, NHS Digital released data on August 19 showing 1 million patients waited 12 hours after arrival between April 2021 and March 2022. However, it is not clear if the organizations will agree to regularly release the data every month instead of annually as it is currently.
dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said The Independent: “For some time we have been asking NHS England to release the 12 hour data measured from arrival time. This data will reveal the true scale and depth of the crisis facing emergency and emergency care. We believe that by being transparent about the sheer number of patients facing 12-hour waits, we can mobilize political and health leaders to act.
“We know that this data is already being collected by every trust. However, only the 12-hour data from the decision to admit admission is currently being released – we believe this is misleading and obscures the truth and reality of the situation.
“We hope that NHS England will listen to the Office for Statistics Regulation and that NHS England will begin to routinely release this data for the sake of transparency and honesty. It will be a catalyst for action and a catalyst for reducing long waits and patient harm.”
She said the UK’s emergency and emergency response system “is no longer working as it should”, adding that services are in a crisis and the first step for politicians to tackle this is “honesty” at around 12 -hour waiting times.
Statistician Steve Black, co-author of a study in the Emergency journal medicinepreviously told The Independent that, based on hidden data, there could be 1,000 additional patient deaths each month.
After analyzing the data obtained by The Independent on excess deaths and data on Covid deaths from The Financial Times, ER waits could cause 500 deaths a week.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has repeatedly urged NHS England to release more detailed figures, writing to chief executive Amanda Pritchard in May and UKSA in June.
The UKSA investigated the discrepancies in the records back in 2017 and found that there was no intent on the part of NHS England and NHS Digital to mislead.
Following a letter from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, the UKSA sent a letter to NHS Digital and NHS England stating: “As you know, the figures published in the monthly publication of A&E attendance and emergency admissions relate to the patients who endure a waiting period of more than 12 hours from the decision on admission to admission.
“However, concerns have been raised that this number is misleading because it does not highlight the full extent of the problem of the number of patients who endure a wait of more than 12 hours from arriving at the emergency room to being discharged, admitted or.” shifted.”
The regulator said it had previously written to the directors of NHS Digital and NHS England on the subject of 12-hour waiting times and concluded the data was not misleading but had the potential to confuse users.
It states: “There appears to be a clear user need for more frequent figures on the number of patients whose total time in the ED exceeds 12 hours. This would also allow for a better comparison of the figures for England with those for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where statistics are published either monthly or quarterly. We would like to ask you to take steps together to make these numbers easily accessible and concise for users on a monthly basis and keep us updated on the progress in this area.”
NHS England did not answer questions from The Independent on whether she would agree to the release of monthly data following the UK Statistics Office’s letter in July.
Referring to the annual publication of 12-hour wait times from arrival dates, a spokesman said: “NHS England will respond to the UKSA letter in due course.”
NHS Digital has been contacted for comment.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/nhs-a-e-uk-regulator-b2151796.html NHS is being forced by UK regulator to release data on hidden trolley wait times