Revealed: 1.5 million patients waited 12 hours or more in A&E in past year

11 Feb 2024

EMBARGO: 22:30 Sunday 11th February 2024

  • One in ten (9.6%) patients waited 12 hours or more in A&E over the past year, five times higher than official target

  • Shocking new figures show average of 4,200 patients a day waited 12 hours or more after arriving in A&E

  • At some NHS trusts over one in four patients faced 12 hour A&E delays as Lib Dems warn long waits “becoming the norm”

A staggering 1.5 million patients in England waited 12 hours or more after arriving at A&E over the past year, new analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The figures reveal the true scale of A&E delays over a twelve month period for the first time. Shockingly at some NHS trusts over one in four patients are facing delays of 12 hours or more after arriving at A&E. The Liberal Democrats said it showed that 12 hour delays had “become almost the norm” in some areas. 

The previously hidden data from NHS England shows the actual amount of time patients spend in A&E after arriving before being admitted, transferred or discharged. These figures are separate from the regularly published “trolley wait” figures, which only measure the time taken after a decision to admit a patient was made.

The latest figures show that in total 1,540,945 patients faced waits of 12 hours or more after arriving at A&E between February 2023, when the new data was first published, to January 2024. This equates to almost one in ten (9.6%) patients during that period, five times higher than the NHS requirement that no more than 2% of patients should wait 12 hours or more from their time of arrival at A&E. Shockingly it means an average of over 4,200 patients waited over 12 hours at A&E every day over the past year. 

January saw the worst figures yet as winter pressures struck, with a record 177,805 or one in eight patients (12.4%) facing A&E waits of over 12 hours.  At Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, over one in four (26.3%) patients in January faced A&E delays of 12 hours or more, the worst in the country. This was followed by Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital (25.4%), Lincolnshire Hospitals (24.5%) and Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals (23.1%). By contrast at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, only 1% of patients in January waited 12 hours or more after arriving at A&E.

One 88 year old woman was left waiting in a chair for 16 hours at A&E in Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading in January. Another woman in her 80s waited for 15 hours at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital A&E in December after going in with chest pain.

Long waits at A&E have been linked to significant patient harm. Research from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has previously estimated that for every 82 admitted patients whose transfer to a hospital bed is delayed beyond 6 to 8 hours from arrival, there is one extra death.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:

“These devastating delays lay bare the stark impact of this Government’s neglect of the NHS. 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.

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

ENDS

Notes to Editor

Full Liberal Democrat analysis is available here

Source: NHS Digital, A&E Attendances and Emergency Admissions (data table: Time Series ECDS analysis)

The NHS Standard Contract states that no more than 2% of patients should wait over 12 hours from the point of arrival at A&E.

‘Woman waits 16 hours at Royal Berkshire Hospital's A&E’, ITV News

‘Worries for A&E staff after 15-hour wait in Shrewsbury’ BBC News

Written Evidence from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine provided to the Health and Social Care Committee (January 2023).

 

 


 

 

Desks a computers in front of a wall painted with the bird of liberty

Back to press releases

View
A person using a laptop

Contact the press office

View