Experiences of Urgent and Emergency Care

Healthwatch England has released new data which reveals what people have been saying about their experience of urgent and emergency care services.

The pressure on urgent and emergency care services has been a big story recently, with significant press coverage of ambulance delays and long waits in accident and emergency departments (A&E).

This is backed up by the official performance statistics, which paint a grim picture as we head into winter.

To understand how the pressures have affected patients, Healthwatch England looked back at the experiences of urgent and emergency care services people shared with them between December 2020 and August 2022.

More than 3,000 people gave feedback, and the number of cases shared grew over time.

Nearly half (49%) of this organic feedback was negative. This is broadly in line with other areas of care that are monitored. However, particular themes in the feedback showed new concerns around waiting times.

To help the NHS better prepare for the difficult months ahead, Healthwatch England wanted to test out whether the views of the public reflected the experiences shared with them.

In August 2022, they worked with Survation to ask a nationally representative sample of 2,036 people their thoughts on urgent and emergency care services.

They asked whether they had used services such as A&E, ambulances, and NHS 111, if they were confident that these services could offer timely and effective care and whether this confidence had changed over the pandemic.

The key themes identified from the polling included:

  • People feel confident that they will receive high-quality care from urgent and emergency services, but believe they will have to wait a long time to receive it.
  • People’s confidence in services changed throughout the pandemic.
  • Those who were admitted to hospital following a visit to A&E were more likely to say their confidence in the service had increased.
  • Older people have lower level of confidence in urgent and emergency services.

Access all of the data and information from the work here.