12-hour A&E waits ‘for 5,000 patients’
MORE than 1 in 20 patients who went to A&E last week waited at least 12 hours for a bed, experts have claimed.
All patients are supposed to be seen within a target of four hours, but thousands are being ‘stranded on a trolley in a corridor’ as the NHS faces its worst winter crisis in history.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) analysed data from 50 A&E departments which provide around one third of the UK’s acute hospital beds.
Its report shows in the first week of December, some 5,171 of the 103,099
patients who attended these hospitals were stuck in A&E for more than 12 hours. Only 68 per cent of patients were seen within the target of four hours – the worst performance on record and 10 per cent lower than the same point last year.
In recent days there has been chaos at A&E departments, with dozens of ambulances queuing outside hospitals because hospital beds were unavailable. The crisis was made worse by a norovirus outbreak that closed more than 1,100 beds last week.
The RCEM’s Dr Katherine Henderson said: ‘Many patients are now getting often life-changing news while stranded on a trolley in a corridor. This cannot be right, and we must strive to put an end to “corridor care”. We are clearly in the worst state we’ve ever been in as we enter the true winter season.’ Monthly NHS figures showing the scale of the crisis will be released on Friday. But the RCEM warns NHS reports do not reflect the true scale because A&E waiting times are measured from when a decision is made to admit a patient, rather than when they arrived. Health Secretary Matt Hancock
said: ‘ Our hospitals are treating a record number of people, and with increasing demand we are putting a record £33.9billion extra funding into our NHS.’
‘This cannot be right’