More patients visited A&E at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust last month, with demand rising above the levels seen over the same period last year.

NHS England figures show 18,667 patients visited A&E at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust in May.

That was a rise of 14% on the 16,396 visits recorded during April, and 13% more than the 16,578 patients seen in May 2022.

The figures show attendances were above the levels seen two years ago – in May 2021, there were 15,135 visits to A&E departments run by Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust.

Dr Tim Cooksley, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said the latest data shows an NHS that is under "immense strain and struggling" during a continuous crisis.

He added: "Through the enormous efforts of staff and consideration of patients, many still receive good care. However, this should not be used as a smokescreen for the turmoil beneath and it is no long-term solution."

The majority of attendances last month were via minor A&E departments – those which treat minor injuries and illnesses such as fractures, cuts and bruises – while 34% were via major departments, with full resuscitation equipment and 24-hour consultant-led care.

Across England, A&E departments received 2.2 million visits last month – up 10% compared to April, and similar to the number of visits seen in May 2022.

Dr Cooksley added the number of patients waiting more than twelve hours is alarming for this time of the year.

The number of people waiting more than 12 hours in A&E departments from a decision to admit to actually being admitted stood at 31,494 in May, up 17% from 26,899 in April. However, it was down 42% from a record 54,573 in December 2022.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said staff are continuing to deliver improvements despite the NHS continuing to see high levels of demand across urgent and emergency care.

Saoirse Mallorie, senior analyst at The King’s Fund said it seems the national NHS workforce plans is stuck in a loop of being repeatedly promised and then postponed, while patients and staff "continue to pay the price".

She added: "It’s crucial that health leaders are provided with the workforce plan they need, including the details of funding to underpin it.

"The plan itself will be a real test of how seriously the government is taking its commitments to grow the NHS workforce and improve care."

At Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust:

In May:

  • 79% of arrivals were seen within four hours, against an NHS target of 95%
  • 984 patients waited longer than four hours for treatment following a decision to admit – 5% of all arrivals
  • Of those, 467 were delayed by more than 12 hours