400,000 patients forced to wait in NHS casualty for 24 hours
400,000 patients are forced to wait in NHS casualty departments for at least 24 hours, figures show, as long waits are branded a ‘matter of national shame’
- Last year 400,000 patients spent 24 hours or more in an emergency department
Twenty-four hours in A&E is ‘no longer just a documentary’, with long waits a reality for many and a ‘matter of national shame’, leading medics have warned.
Figures show almost 400,000 patients spent 24 hours or more in an emergency department in England last year.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), who shared the data, warned there would be a similar situation this year and that patients are coming to avoidable harm as a result of long waits.
Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the College, said: ‘We know that long stays in emergency departments are harmful. I think it should be a matter of national shame that we have these very long waits for admitted patients.
‘We must not normalise a very abnormal situation – 24 hours in A&E is not just a documentary, it’s a way of life for lots of people, far too many people.’
Figures show almost 400,000 patients spent 24 hours or more in an emergency department in England last year (Stock Image)
READ MORE: HUMAN PRICE OF THE WORST INDUSTRIAL STRIKE IN NHS HISTORY LAID BARE
Dr Boyle said that the College wants an emergency care system where the whole process, from a person being picked up by an ambulance all the way through to either discharge or admittance to a hospital, takes no longer than six hours.
The new figures, gathered through Freedom of Information requests, show that 399,908 people waited 24 hours or more in an emergency department in England between January 2022 and February 2023.
Last year there were a record 25.3 million attendances in A&Es in England, 4 per cent up on the year before, separate figures revealed.
People caught up in the long waits are ‘often elderly and vulnerable’ and trolleys ‘stacked up in corridors’ were seen in emergency departments ‘all the time’.
Dr Boyle added: ‘It feels actually sometimes a little bit embarrassing the level of care that we’re able to offer people when they really need us, and that’s very demoralising.’
An NHS England spokesman said: ‘This data relates to last year, when services were facing record demand, industrial action and Covid and flu. But since we published our urgent and emergency care recovery plan in January we have seen significant improvements.
The proportion of patients waiting 12 hours in A&E is down a sixth.’
Commenting on the figures, Liberal Democrat health spokesman Daisy Cooper said: ‘Long waits at A&E are leading to unnecessary harm. It’s vital that the Health Secretary comes up with a proper winter plan including ensuring hospitals have enough beds and staff.’
Source: Read Full Article