This is how much it costs the NHS every time someone calls an ambulance or goes to A&E

By Claire Schofield
Thursday, 6th February 2020, 1:21 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th February 2020, 12:31 pm
More than 2.1 million people attended A&E in England in January 2020 (Photo: Shutterstock)
More than 2.1 million people attended A&E in England in January 2020 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Being taken ill and having to go to hospital is never a pleasant experience, but accidents and sickness are a part of life - and making a trip to A&E is something many will be familiar with.

More than 2.1 million people attended A&E in England in January 2020 alone, with around 10,000 of those thought to be in a life-threatening condition.

But how do A&E visits impact the NHS?

The real cost of A&E visits

A single trip to A&E costs the NHS £419, even before any specialist treatment, according to new research from Hudgell Solicitors.

The specialist injury lawyer researched NHS pricing data and found that this cost rises by nearly £300 to £722 should the patient require a hospital bed for the night.

It costs around £7 to make a call to the ambulance emergency room.

And there is a further cost of £252 should an ambulance be required to attend and treat at the scene of the accident, and then transfer you to hospital.

Once at hospital, being treated in A&E racks up an additional £160, while a bed on a hospital ward for the night costs a hefty £303.

A&E costs in December 2019 equated to more than £900 million (Photo: Shutterstock)

More than £900 million

Looking specifically at the bill for A&E costs in December 2019, the number of people treated in the emergency room equated to more than £900 million.

The total bill for patients in this period was an eye-watering £913 million, before any specialist treatment was added.

The NHS claims that around nine million patients are sent home from A&E every year, having just received advice that could have been given by a pharmacist, or by calling 111.

This amounts to the equivalent of £1.4 billion, assuming patients did not attend A&E in an ambulance. This cost is enough to fund the training for nearly 2,000 GPs, or 20,000 nurses.

Commenting on the findings, Vince Shore, senior solicitor and joint head of clinical negligence, said, “The real lesson here is the staggering amount that the NHS spends on treating accidents and emergencies, and potentially how much we could have to pay as individuals should the Health Service ever move over to the private sector.

“Furthermore, it highlights the number of avoidable hospital visits to the emergency room, the cost of this to the NHS, and added strain on NHS staff.

“Given the amount of money that trips to A&E cost, and that waiting times are at an all-time high with more than 2,000 people waiting over 12 hours for a bed last month, we’d urge the public to only call an ambulance out, or visit the hospital, if it’s a genuine emergency, and call 111 or visit a pharmacy if the issue is not urgent.”