Feb 12, 2024 15:19 UTC
  • UK health crisis: Over 1.5m patients waited at least 12 hours in A&E in past year

Figures have shown that more than 1.5 million patients in England had to wait at least 12 hours in accident and emergency departments (A&E) in the past year, in what MPs say lay bare the impacts of UK government neglect of the National Health Service (NHS).

According to analysis of official data by the Liberal Democrats, 1,540,945 patients experienced long waits in A&E between February 2023 and January 2024.

The analysis showed the actual amount of time people spent in A&E after arriving before being admitted, transferred or discharged.

“Every day thousands of patients are being left scared and in pain in overcrowded A&Es, waiting for 12 hours or more to receive the care they need,” Daisy Cooper, the party’s health spokesperson, said.

“These devastating delays lay bare the stark impact of this government’s neglect of the NHS,” she added.

January was the worst month in the past year as winter pressures struck. It saw 177,805 patients facing waits of 12 hours or more to be seen in emergency departments. The figure means one in 10 patients (12.4%) arriving at A&E waited 12 hours. Some hospitals even saw one in four patients facing delays of at least 12 hours.

The number of patients waiting more than 12 hours in A&E departments from a decision to admit them to actually being admitted also jumped to 54,308 in January, up sharply from 44,045 in December.

This was the second-highest figure on record, just below 54,573 in December 2022.

“Waits of 12 hours or more can have catastrophic consequences for people’s health, particularly the elderly and vulnerable. No one should have to wait this long for care, yet in some areas these unacceptably long delays have become almost the norm,” Cooper said.

“It’s time Conservative ministers started taking this NHS crisis seriously instead of ignoring all the warning signs while patients suffer.”

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has previously highlighted data showing that once people wait more than around six hours and need to be admitted to hospital, their risk of dying begins to rise.