More than a quarter of ambulance patients in England waited more than an hour to be admitted to the emergency room in the last week of 2022, amid “one of the most difficult winters” in National Health Service history.
Of all those who arrived by ambulance in the week of January 1, 26.3% waited with crews for more than 60 minutes.
This affected 18,720 patients, much more than in the last six winters and probably the highest number on record.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the figures “underscore the stark reality of the pressures on NHS leaders, staff and patients”, which he said represent “crisis conditions with inherent risks to the patient safety”.
He added: “We must learn the hard lessons of this winter and the government must commit to giving the health and care system the tools and support it needs to prevent next winter from being as bad as this one.
“Critical to that is swift action to address the worsening workforce crisis in health and care, as a vital first step, and to reach a commitment with unions to stop this harmful industrial action.”
Figures show that more than 43% of ambulance arrivals waited more than 30 minutes for admission to A&E in the same week, either waiting with the crew in the back of an ambulance or in hospital corridors.
The ongoing impact of a combination of flu, Covid and the respiratory infection RSV is also contributing to putting pressure on the service.
More than 5,400 beds were needed for flu patients in the week up to New Year’s Day, up 45% from the previous week. The equivalent number in the winter of 2021-22 was 39.
The same data release shows that the number of patients in intensive care beds with flu increased by more than a quarter (26%) to 336, compared with 267 the previous week.
The number of Covid patients in hospitals across England increased by almost 1,200 compared to the previous week, with an average of 9,390 Covid patients in hospital every day with 88 beds required every day on average for children with RSV.
Another 12,809 beds were being filled by medically fit patients for discharge in the same week, a 30% increase from the previous winter.
A total of 3,562 intensive care beds were occupied in the last week of the year, two fewer than the same week in 2020-21.
Miriam Deakin, policy director at NHS Providers, said the confluence of flu and covid-19 means “more people require medical care at a time when the number of beds and staff are well below what is expected.” needs to”.
The NHS’s national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: “It remains vital that people make the most of online services such as 111 and, as always, only use 999 in an emergency, and it is also crucial let those who are eligible come forward. flu and covid vaccines as soon as possible.
About one in 20 people in the community, or 2.5 million, had covid in England in the week ending December 28, up from one in 45 in the week ending December 9. The number was one in 18 in Wales, one in 25 in Scotland and one in 16 in Northern Ireland, the latest figures show.
According to the latest data for England from the United Kingdom Health Security Agency, the general rate of weekly hospital admissions for Covid in the last week of 2022 was 10.71 per 100,000. While this is a slight decrease from the previous week, officials cautioned that the data may be affected by reporting delays and bank holidays.
Asked by broadcasters after the figures were released, health secretary Steve Barclay said the government recognized the “massive strain” on the health service.
He said the government was putting in additional funding to address the problem, particularly focused on “getting people out of hospital who are fit to go but are often delayed on wards.”