Emergency Department Workforce Benchmarking report released

Emergency Department Workforce Benchmarking report explores relationships between department size, configuration, activity, and workforce.

A joint paper produced by the NHS Benchmarking Network and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) published this week provides detailed analysis of the Emergency Care workforce in England and Wales using intelligence from the NHS Benchmarking Network’s annual Emergency Care Benchmarking project.

This report highlights the ongoing focus on 24/7 care and weekend provision in ED departments. Analysis reveals the number of hours per week a Consultant is present in the ED has increased consistently over the last six years, starting at 89 hours per week in 2012/13 and rising to 107 in the latest round of the project

Other findings from the report include:

  • EDs employ an average of 178 WTE staff per 100,000 ED attendances

  • Average length of stay in the ED across all patient types increased from 2 hours 7 minutes in 2012, to 3 hours 28 minutes in 2018, waiting and treatment times were also longest in the largest departments

  • Between 2012 and 2018 the EM workforce grew at an average of 6.6% per year

  • There is a correlation between a higher proportion of Consultants in the ED workforce and lower patient length of stay in the ED, and also with wider senior decision maker support which is also associated with better four-hour system performance

  • Very large departments have the greatest challenge in recruiting EM Consultants with a third of posts vacant

  • On average 23% of ED pay is spent on bank, agency and locum staff

  • Sustainable working practices and recruitment and retention strategies are a key part of reducing locum spend and improving workforce substantively

  • The joint strategy in England 'Securing the future ED workforce' that was agreed in 2017, outlines how to address workforce challenges. Policymakers and the RCEM are working together to agree similar frameworks for the devolved nations.

Stephen Watkins, Director of the NHS Benchmarking Network, said: “We are delighted to share the findings of the workforce component of the Emergency Care benchmarking project. In 2018 almost all English and Welsh emergency departments participated in the project giving a unique insight into the operation of emergency departments. Benchmarking supports organisations by providing structured comparisons to help define and implement best practice. This work provides a unique evidence base to help improve patient care and develop new models of service delivery.

For further information on this report or the NHS Benchmarking Network Emergency Care report, please contact Ellie Perchard or call 0161 266 2113.