‘NHS has slipped inexorably into eternal winter’ – SAM past president (09 May 2024)

Commenting on the latest NHS performance data released today (09 May) which showed, among other things, that one patient in every 10 who attended an emergency department in April waited 12 hours or more, Dr Tim Cooksley, immediate past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “The NHS has slipped inexorably into a state of eternal winter. 

“This is perfectly illustrated by the daily experience of thousands of acute medical patients; often older people and those with cancer, being treated degradingly on corridors. 

“Despite some slight improvements in four-hour performance, 131,440 patients waited 12 hours in emergency departments which is up from 99,930 this time last year, so this cannot be used as a smokescreen.

“This is an appalling and harmful experience, heartbreaking for their loved ones witnessing it and morally injuring for staff delivering it. This is a national emergency and must be recognised as that.

“Due to prolonged acute care waits, thousands of people are being irreversibly harmed every month. This is an unacceptable new normal – sadly, poor performance has become an accepted reality which is misleading and we cannot allow that to happen.

“Of huge concern is that this national emergency will not be a focus as we enter a period of inevitable election stasis. This is a disaster for those needing care.”