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Monday 24th June 2019

Longer A&E waits for beds

9th August 2012

More patients are waiting longer than four hours in emergency departments for a bed to become available.


And that waiting period has soared in the last 12 months, according to analysis carried out by HSJ.

Figures from the Department of Health show that in the first half of this year, 66,845 patients waited between four and 12 hours for a bed once a decision had been taken to admit them – a 31% rise on the 50,944 who waited that time in the same period for 2011.

A significant number of these patients would have been waiting on trolleys or in corridors.

Current A&E performance measures require hospitals to admit or discharge 95% of patients within the four-hour period but HSJ found that 27 of the 146 trusts analysed under-achieved during the first six months of 2012, up from 14 in the same period in 2011.

Full year like-for-like comparisons are not available because the Department of Health altered the way it publishes A&E performance data during the 2011-12 period.

College of Emergency Medicine president Mike Clancy said the rise reflected pressure on hospitals and there were indications that the wait was longer when staff numbers were lower at evenings and weekends. Wards were also being asked to handle patients faster.

He added: “There is quite clear evidence that with overcrowding goes increased mortality and morbidity. There is a real patient safety issue.”

The Royal College of Nursing blamed the increase on rising patient expectations, financial pressure in the acute sector and the distractions of the current reforms.


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