The number of patients in England who waited for 12 hours or more in A&E during the previous year exceeded 1.5 million, as stated by MPs who believe this reveals the consequences of the government’s lack of attention towards the NHS.
In the previous month, a total of 177,805 individuals experienced waits of 12 hours or longer in emergency departments. This averaged out to 5,735 patients each day. This indicates that approximately one in 10 patients (12.4%) who arrived at A&E had to wait 12 hours before being admitted, transferred, or discharged.
The Liberal Democrats analyzed official data and found that a total of 1,540,945 patients experienced extended wait times between February 2023 and January 2024.
Daisy Cooper, the health spokesperson for the party, stated that numerous patients are experiencing fear and discomfort while waiting in overcrowded A&E departments for 12 hours or more to receive necessary care. These prolonged delays showcase the severe consequences of the government’s neglect of the NHS.
The month of January was deemed the most difficult in the previous year due to the impact of winter pressures. At certain medical facilities, 25% of patients experienced delays of 12 hours or longer. According to the Liberal Democrats, an 88-year-old woman had to wait for 16 hours before receiving care.
The data revealed the precise duration patients spent in the emergency room before being admitted, transferred, or discharged. These numbers are distinct from the recently released “trolley wait” statistics, which only track the time after a decision has been made to admit a patient.
In January, the number of individuals who had to wait over 12 hours in A&E departments, from when a decision was made to admit them to when they were actually admitted, significantly increased to 54,308. This is a notable jump from the 44,045 recorded in December.
This was the second highest number ever recorded, coming in slightly lower than the 54,573 reported in December 2022.
The amount of individuals who waited a minimum of four hours from the determination to accept to admission increased as well, rising from 148,282 in December to 158,721 last month. This marks the second highest number ever recorded.
Extended periods of time spent in the emergency room have been associated with significant harm to patients. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has previously brought attention to statistics indicating that when individuals wait more than approximately six hours and require hospital admission, their chances of mortality begin to rise.
Cooper stated that extended wait times of 12 hours or more can greatly harm the well-being of individuals, especially those who are elderly or vulnerable. It is unacceptable for anyone to have to endure such lengthy wait times for necessary care. Unfortunately, in certain regions, these delays have become the expected standard. It is imperative that Conservative ministers begin addressing this severe crisis within the NHS, rather than disregarding all the red flags and allowing patients to suffer.
The Department of Health and Social Care stated that the performance of A&E was showing improvement, despite the challenges of winter and the unprecedented number of A&E visits in January.
“We are committed to continuously enhancing patient care. We have already fulfilled our commitment to provide an additional 5,000 permanent hospital beds and 10,000 hospital at home beds. This has resulted in increased capacity and reduced waiting times,” stated a representative.