A&E sees busiest October on record

New figures from NHS England show that more than 2.2 million people attended A&Es in October (2,219,618), making it the busiest October on record, and the busiest month so far this year for Type 1 attendances (1,413,560).

There were also 547,586 emergency admissions – the highest number since January 2020 (559,058).

Ambulance services also saw their busiest month this year for category 1 (83,326) and category 2 (393,724) ambulance callouts, and more than 850,000 calls to 999 were answered last month – the highest number so far this year.

However, despite the increase in demand, the most serious ambulance response times were more than one minute faster in October (8:40) compared with the same month last year, and Category 2 response times were almost 20 minutes faster (41:40) last month compared with 1:01:19 in October 2022.

Year-long waits were down by 5,500 in September compared to the month before and waits of more than 65 weeks have more than halved since their peak in June 2021 (from 233,051 to 109,138).

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said: “Today’s figures are a stark reminder of the ongoing pressures the NHS is facing, particularly in emergency care with significant demand for ambulances and A&E, as we head into what we are expecting to be another challenging winter in the health service.

“Despite these ongoing pressures, including 10 months of strikes, the NHS has made progress on its three recovery plans, and it is important to recognise the incredible efforts of staff who are seeing and treating many more people than pre-pandemic – delivering record numbers of diagnostic tests and checks, treating more people for cancer at an earlier stage, and completing thousands more routine procedures.

“But these strikes have had a significant impact on patients and staff, and created unavoidable financial costs – this is why we have set out actions for local areas to take to protect patient safety, and prioritise urgent and emergency services so that patients receive the best possible care this winter, while the primary focus for elective activity should be on long waits and patients with urgent care and cancer needs.

“And as ever, the public can help play their part this winter by getting their flu and Covid-19 vaccinations when eligible, using services like NHS 111 to get urgent advice on the best NHS service for their needs without leaving the comfort of their homes, and by calling 999 in life-threatening emergencies.”

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