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Total time in English accident and emergency departments is related to bed occupancy
  1. M W Cooke1,
  2. S Wilson2,
  3. J Halsall3,
  4. A Roalfe2
  1. 1Emergency Medicine Research Group, Centre for Primary Health Care Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  2. 2Department of Primary Care and General Practice, Division of Primary Care Public and occupational Health, University of Birmingham, UK
  3. 3Department of Health, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M W Cooke
 Emergency Medicine Research Group, Centre for Primary Health Care Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK;

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Simulation modelling has suggested high bed occupancy in hospitals is associated with a greater risk of prolonged waits for admission in the accident and emergency (A&E) department.1 The NHS Plan2 has introduced two standards for waits in A&E. Firstly, the wait for admission from the time of a decision to admit (trolley wait); which is the wait that appears to be related to average bed occupancy within acute trusts.1 This is logical, as one would expect admissions to have to wait if beds are not readily available at all times. The second standard in the NHS Plan relating to A&E is the total time in A&E measured from the arrival of the patient to their discharge from hospital or admission to a ward, this applies to all patients whether they are admitted or not. Therefore the vast majority will be patients who are discharged home. It would be expected that most of these patients would not be affected by the average bed occupancy in the trust unless …

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  • Funding: Sue Wilson is supported by a Department of Health National Primary Care Career Scientist Award. Matthew Cooke is partly funded by the Department of Health.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.