Repeat A&E visitors driving up pressure on services

An investigation conducted by the BBC has found that some patients are going to A&E units in the UK more than fifty times per year. Data collected from 183 sites, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, found nearly 12,000 people made more than ten visits to the same unit in 2012-13, with a small number of these attending more than fifty times. Doctors warned the BBC that while the issue was confined to a minority of patients, it has been adding to the mounting pressures placed on the system over the winter months, with many hospitals already struggling to hit waiting-time targets.

BBC News

Olly from PSI: This news has only strengthened calls by clinicians and policy wonks to accelerate the increasing trend for more care to be provided “within the community”, such as in the home, from community based clinics and practices or through prevention via social services. Diverting patients from attending A&E services when they do not necessarily need to will require long-term cultural change that no single policy announcement could transform in an instant,  especially when this report implies the problem is being exacerbated by a minority of repeat offenders (so-to-speak). As a result, this problem is likely to remain an issue for many winters to come.

However, if this concern remains on the public consciousness, in tandem with the introduction of innovative policy drivers, perhaps,  just perhaps, people’s behavioral habits could change and the pressure on the service could ease…