The number of patients who wait more than 12 hours in the ER to be treated has exceeded 50,000 a week for the first time, the independent can reveal.
filtered out National Health Service Data shows that last month, one in eight patients faced a “tram wait”, the time between emergency assistance and admission, of more than 12 hours, as the health service is under a increasing pressure.
the independent previously revealed that the number of deaths linked to long delays for emergency treatment had risen to 500 per week for Octoberwhen more than 30,000 patients a week waited 12 hours or more.
On Wednesday, the crisis will escalate further as 25,000 ambulance employees, including 999 call handlers, are ready to strike. Health care leaders said they fear this round of strikes will affect services even more than before Christmas.
Sources across the country said the independent that hospitals have to “squeeze” patients in spaces other than regular wards or A&E, without direct oxygen lines. Meanwhile, patients wait for hours in ambulances outside emergency departments.
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shadow health secretary Wes Streeting He said: “It is unsafe and unacceptable to leave patients waiting so long for emergency care. These record wait times are having dire consequences for patients.”
Dr Den Langhor, British Medical Association Advisory Committee leader for emergency medicine, said: “Statistics such as this provide further evidence that patients, staff and anyone with recent first-hand experience of departments “Emergency staff and the NHS in general have been yelling: the service is failing. This is a crisis, and yet the Prime Minister still refuses to call it that.”
The NHS does not routinely publish internal data on patients waiting in the ER from the point of arrival. the independent may reveal that the number of those waiting more than 12 hours has risen from about 10,000 a week at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to over 50,000 last month.
An academic study published last year estimated that for every 72 patients who wait 8 to 12 hours in the ER, one additional death is likely to occur.
Saffron Cordery, from NHS Providers, who represents hospital trusts, said: “Long waits in extremely busy A&E departments are a symptom of the enormous strain on the entire health and care system in the midst of the harshest winter for the NHS.
“The most widespread industrial action in NHS history is also taking its toll, plus Covid-19, flu and many other winter challenges. [exacerbated by] chronically understaffed and an underfunded social care system.”
Data released by the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday showed there were 1,119 “excess deaths” – the number of people who died above the average over the past five years – in the last week of 2022, excluding those with Covid. In 2021 and 2020, non-Covid related deaths were below the five-year average.
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, emeritus professor of statistics at the University of Cambridge, said multiple factors such as an “early flu season, Covid, the impact of disrupted care in the pandemic and the acute crisis in the NHS” had contributed. to the increase.
He added: “Research has shown that admission delays are linked to higher mortality rates, and it is plausible that this is leading to hundreds of excess deaths.”
The figures come as up to 15,000 ambulance staff who are Unison members will picket, at services in London, the North West, Yorkshire, the North East and the South West on Wednesday.
They will be joined by more than 10,000 GMB members, who are also ready to strike.
Miriam Deakin, director of NHS Provider policy and strategy, said the NHS is now in an “even more precarious position” than it was during the December strikes, with more staff involved and more pressure on services.
On Tuesday, business secretary Grant Shapps accused the striking unions of putting “lives at risk”, claiming they could not agree on safe minimum staffing levels. His comments came as the government introduced a bill that could mean unions will have to agree to minimum staffing levels when members go on strike.
Christina McAnea, Unison’s general secretary, rejected the idea that the current crisis is being caused by strikes.
She said the government is trying to “demonise” striking workers, when the NHS cannot achieve safe staffing levels, even on a normal day. On Monday, health secretary Steve Barclay announced plans to treat patients in temporary buildings on the hospital grounds to ease pressure on emergency departments.
An NHS spokesman said official data showed “significant demand” on the health service, including more than 5,100 beds filled by flu patients and almost 13,000 by those unable to be discharged.