People living in deprived areas visit A&E twice as much as the affluent

Nearly 25 million people attended A&E in 2018-19.

Laura Townsend
14 September 2019
Busy A&E waiting room

Over a quarter of all A&E attendances are by the 20% of the population living in the most deprived areas.

Accident & Emergency (A&E) attendances for those living in most deprived areas are around double that of those living in the least deprived, official figures have revealed.

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NHS Digital’s data on Hospital Accident & Emergency Activity in 2018-19 show that the bottom 10% account for the largest number of A&E attendances of any group, with just over 3 million attendances in 2018-19. In contrast, the top 10% only accounted for around 1.5 million A&E attendances.

Expanding these figures further shows that 27% of all A&E attendances are by the 20% of the population living in the most deprived areas.

A recent study suggested that socioeconomic such as poor housing quality, unemployment, self-care difficulties, depression, and proximity increased a person’s likelihood of attending an A&E service.

The report includes data from all types of Accident and Emergency departments ranging from major A&E departments, single specialty, consultant-led emergency departments to Minor Injury Units and Walk-in Centres.

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An overall increase in attendances.

Looking at all arrival times, 1.5% of all attendances in 2018-19 spent more than 12 hours in A&E, compared with 1.6% the previous year.

The data also shows a 4% increase in attendances to A&E from 23.8 million in 2017-18 to 24.8 million in 2018-19 and a 21% increase from 20.5 million in 2009-10. Since 2009-10, the average growth in A&E attendances per year is 2%.

An NHS spokesperson said; “Over a busy summer, NHS staff have continued to deliver more care than ever before for those who need it, with 37,000 more people receiving A&E treatment within four hours this August compared with last August.”

“July also saw the highest ever number of people in a month benefiting from fast NHS cancer checks, other routine tests and rapid treatment for serious mental health problems, while an extra 1,600 people started planned treatment every day compared to last year, showing that every part of the health service is playing its part in meeting the rising demand for care.”

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