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HSCIC publishes new report to help shed light on A&E activity

December 03, 2013: The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has today published a new report to help build understanding of A&E activity in England.

Focus on Accident and Emergency, December 2013 aims to help inform the current debate by bringing together a broad range of statistical data and analyses.

While the report reflects a changing, complex picture of overall attendance, it also shows striking consistencies in patterns of A&E activity over several years.

In highlighting these areas of change, the report shows that in 2012-13:

  • Departments dealt with 21.7 million attendances overall - or 60,000 a day. This is an 11 per cent growth on four years ago (2008-09) and compares to a 3.2 per cent growth in the England population during the same period.
  • Minor units dealt with almost 32 in every 100 attendees (up from 28 in 2008-09), while major units dealt with about 66 in every 100 (down from 69).
  • 63 in every 100 minor unit attendees were aged under 40 (up from 59 in 2008-09), while 12 in every 100 were aged over 64 (down from 14).
  • In major units, 54 in every 100 attendees were aged under 40 (down from 57 in 2008-09), while 21 in every 100 were aged over 64 (up from 19).

2012-13 A&E activity patterns consistent with recent years (where data is available) include:

  • Attendances at A&E peak slightly in April to June (based on 2008-09 data onwards).
  • The majority of attendances are during normal working hours of 9am to 6pm (2008-09 onwards).
  • Around one A&E patient in five is admitted to hospital. For people aged over 64 this rises to almost one in two (2009-10 onwards)
  • Of every 20 attendees, 13 refer themselves to A&E while around one is referred by a GP (2009-10 onwards).
  • Overall, about a third of patients receive guidance or advice only when attending A&E (2009-10 onwards).

HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said: "HSCIC has responsibility for a wealth of national health and social care statistics and therefore, as an independent authority in this area, can usefully harness its expertise to help shed light on the A&E debate.

"A&E is a complex area that statistics alone cannot fully explain- but good quality information is vital towards gaining a clear understanding of patterns and trends in activity over time."

The report is available at:


Notes to editors

1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's independent, trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 220 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

2. HES data for 2012-13 are provisional - which means they should be used for national aggregate trends only.

3. Population estimates are based on calendar years (source: ONS) whereas attendance figures are based on financial years. In example -2012-13 attendance data is compared to the 2012 midyear population estimate.

4. Type 1 A&E department (Major A&E)

A consultant led 24 hour service with full resuscitation facilities and designated accommodation for the reception of accident and emergency patients

 Type 2 A&E department (Single Specialty)

A consultant led single specialty accident and emergency service (e.g. ophthalmology, dental) with designated accommodation for the reception of patients

Type 3 A&E department (Other A&E / Minor Injury Unit)

Other type of A&E/minor injury units (MIUs)/Walk-in Centres (WiCs), primarily designed for the receiving of accident and emergency patients. A type 3 department may be doctor led or nurse led. It may be co-located with a major A&E or sited in the community. A defining characteristic of a service qualifying as a type 3 department is that it treats at least minor injuries and illnesses (sprains for example) and can be routinely accessed without appointment. An appointment based service (for example an outpatient clinic) or one mainly or entirely accessed via telephone or other referral (for example most out of hours services), or a dedicated primary care service (such as GP practice or GP-led health centre) is not a type 3 A&E service even though it may treat a number of patients with minor illness or injury.

5. For media enquiries please contact or 0845 257 6990.

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