Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Data Briefing

Are accident and emergency attendances increasing?

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 07 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3677
  1. John Appleby, chief economist
  1. 1King’s Fund, London, UK
  1. j.appleby{at}

John Appleby unpicks the claims made for the causes of rising waiting times in emergency departments

A rise in the proportion of patients waiting over four hours in accident and emergency departments in England—the highest quarterly figure since 2003-04 (fig 1)—has prompted a list of reasons for this recent breach of the government’s target.1 Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has principally blamed lengthening waiting times on changes in general practitioners’ out of hours arrangements in 2003-04 and general difficulties for patients in obtaining speedy appointments with their GPs.2 Conservative MP Chris Skidmore suggested problems were down to changing population demographics—including immigrants’ use of emergency departments in place of general practice.3 On this, evidence suggests recent immigrants’ use of secondary care …

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