HDRUK Winter pressures: Exploring variation in avoidable admissions and developing criteria to define an avoidable admission


Hospitals plan carefully to manage increases in demand for emergency care in winter, but there has been little research showing what this seasonal demand looks like. We used data from 2021 to 2022, from over 20 emergency departments and their hospitals to better understand this seasonal demand. We were particularly interested in changes in ED waiting times, the number of treatments or investigations received, and whether the attendance or admission was considered non-urgent.

We found winter did not result in changes in for any of our key measures. This suggests that the high demand that used to be only seen in winter are now seen all year round. This means that emergency departments are under high pressure all the time. We should be looking for permanent means of easing this pressure, rather than focusing on specific times of year, to make sure that patients receive the best possible emergency care.


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