Evidence from A and E departments shows that older people are left waiting for attention much longer than younger people: Elderly people waited nearly twice as long in A&E in England as in 2021 | Older people | The Guardian
This article from the Guardian reports on findings from a survey conducted by The Royal College of Emergency Medicine. (I have not been able to find this survey yet).
The headline is that people over 80, who go to A and E, are currently waiting on average 16 hours before they receive attention. This represents a seven hour increase compared with 2021.
Average waiting time for people under 20 was 4 hours 2021 and 5 hours 2022
People aged 60-79 waited 8hrs 20mins 2021 and 13 hrs 20mins 2022
At first sight this looks like blatant age-discrimination, though there may be reasons of severity, urgency and complexity which partially explain the differences which were evident a year ago, but have become more marked.
Explanations for the phenomenon offered by The Royal College and the Guardian, include the extra pressure on A and E departments as other components of the NHS and care services fail to meet needs and play their expected parts in the spectrum of services. The result is that A and E departments become overcrowded and chaotic – dangerous, rather than safe places to be.
Older people trapped in these long waits are more likely to experience falls, develop sepsis, get bed ulcers and become confused. They are almost certainly more likely to stay longer in hospital, to fail to return to their own homes, and to die either in hospital or soon after.
This is a shocking systems-failure. My own experience is that staff of all grades and descriptions are devoted, competent professionals, doing their very best in the circumstances.
It is important that the warnings given by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine are noted, understood – and the lessons learned translated into appropriate action.
Another article in the Guardian this past week, tells us that doing nothing means that we are guilty of the consequences: Shared guilt that when we stand by, dreadful things can happen: My family’s Holocaust legacy taught me that racism grows where it is enabled | Holocaust | The Guardian
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s ‘Universal Soldier’ made famous by Bob Dylan, Donovan and others: Donovan - Universal Soldier Lyrics | Lyrics.com