Thousands wait more than four hours to be seen in A&E
The number of patients left to wait up to 12 hours for an emergency hospital bed rose by almost a third in the first six months of the year, according to official figures.Almost 67,000 patients admitted to A&E departments could not be seen for between four and 12 hours amid concerns thousands had to wait in corridors or on trolleys.
Under Department of Health targets, hospitals should admit or discharge 95 per cent of A&E patients within four hours.
But in the worst-performing trust – Surrey and Sussex Healthcare – more than one in five had to wait more than four hours for a bed.
Experts said the figures showed the financial pressures hospitals are currently facing.
Mike Clancy, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, said: “It’s a high pressure system and small changes in demand make a big change in waiting. We are asking wards to handle more patients faster.”
Meanwhile, the number of patients waiting more than 12 hours for treatment at A&E departments in Scotland has more than doubled since 2008, with targets missed in the cases of 882 people.
Professor Matthew Cooke, national clinical director for urgent and emergency care at the Department of Health, said: “This should not be referred to as waiting time as it is time that includes assessment and treatment.
“Once a decision to admit a patient to a ward from A&E is taken, they should be transferred as quickly as possible so that the best treatment for their condition can be given in the most appropriate setting.”
“This is why we gave hospitals greater flexibility in allowing more patients who need to remain in A&E longer for vital tests, observation or treatment. For patients admitted to A&E via an ambulance, the average wait to be seen by a doctor is only 49 minutes.”
“Modern A&E departments provide a more comprehensive service, with specialist expertise, than has historically been the case. This would mean some patients get the best treatment for them in the A&E department and so would spend longer there. This does not mean that they are still waiting.”
Tags: Accident and Emergency, Health Professionals, nhs cash shortages, NHS targets, Patients' Association, waiting times