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Emergency department attendance is twice as high in most deprived areas

NHS reports shows that people in the bottom 10% of poorest areas of England account for more than half of emergency admissions

NHS reports shows that people in bottom 10% poorest areas of England account for more than half of emergency admissions

Emergency department attendances in England increased to 24.8 million in 2018-19
ED attendances in England increased to 24.8 million in 2018-19 Picture: iStock

Emergency department (ED) attendances for people in the most deprived areas are double compared to the least deprived, NHS data has shown.

According to NHS Digital’s publication Hospital Accident & Emergency Activity 2018-19, people in the 10% of most deprived areas in England account for the largest number of attendances at ED departments, with just over 3 million in 2018-19.

This means this group accounted for just over 55,600 attendances for every 100,000 people.

Lifestyle and health inequalities

In comparison, people in the 10% of least deprived areas in England had 1.5 million ED attendances, just over 28,700 attendances for every 100,000 people.

RCN Emergency Care Association chair Janet Youd said: ‘These data emphasise the inequalities between the country’s wealthiest people, who can afford a lifestyle which optimises health, and those who are living in poverty and struggle to maintain good housing conditions, let alone afford to eat a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables.

'The latter clearly are more likely to suffer medical emergencies such as cardiovascular events requiring emergency care.’

Emergency department attendance statistics

The NHS Digital report is published in partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement.

It includes attendances from all types of EDs, ranging from major units and single specialty consultant-led emergency departments to minor injury units and walk-in centres.

Data in the report also show for 2018-19:

  • The number of reattendances to ED within seven days was 1.9 million and accounted for 8.7% of all reported attendances.
  • Looking at all arrival times, 1.5% (330,000) of all attendances in 2018-19 spent more than 12 hours in ED, compared with 1.6% (333,000) in 2017-18.
  • There was a 4% increase in attendances to EDs during 2018-19 (24.8 million), compared to 2017-18 (23.8 million) and a 21% increase since 2009-10 (20.5 million).

An NHS spokesperson said: ‘Over a busy summer, NHS staff have continued to deliver more care than ever before for those who need it, with 37,000 more people receiving A&E treatment within four hours this August compared with last August.’

NHS England was contacted regarding the issue of health disparity in the data, but did not respond.

Find out more

NHS Digital – Hospital Accident & Emergency Activity 2018-19


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