A&E peak times and average waits revealed in new NHS Digital data


New data released by NHS Digital digs deeper into A&E attendances, revealing the busiest times for emergency departments and how long patients are there for. The data, which includes attendances from all types of A&E facilities ranging from major A&E departments to walk-in centres, could help hospitals understand where the pinch points are and plan accordingly.


The Hospital Accident and Emergency Activity 2019/20 - created in partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) - brings together newly published data from NHS Digital’s Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) with previously published data from NHSE/I’s A&E Attendances and Emergency Admissions Monthly Situation Reports.


The HES data in the report shows that for 2019/20:

• Monday is the busiest day of the week, accounting or 16% of all attendances (3.63m). The most popular time of arrival on a Monday is between 10am and midday.

• The number of reattendances to A&E within seven days was 1.95m and accounted for 8.7% of all reported attendances.

• Patients arriving between 8am and 10am generally spent the shortest time in A&E with 16% of those arriving between 8am and 8.59am spending one hour or less and 85% of arrivals between 9am and 9.59am spending four hours or less.

• Looking at all arrival times, 2.3% (520,000) of all attendances in 2019/20 spent more than 12 hours in A&E, compared with 1.5% (333,000) in 2018/19. This measures the entire duration of stay in A&E – from arrival to discharge, transfer or admission and differs from the official measure which relates to the time between the point a clinician decides to admit the patient to the point the patient is admitted.

The report also shows that people living in the most deprived areas were almost twice as likely to visit A&E as those in the least deprived areas.

See all the data resources here.

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