A&E waiting times highlight shocking state of the NHS says top emergency doctor

By Piers Meyler - Local Democracy Reporter

12th Sep 2022 | Local News

ACCIDENT and emergency waiting times at Basildon Hospital have considerably lengthened over the past year.

In August last year 80 per cent of patients attending A&E departments operated by the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which includes Basildon, were seen within four hours.

Now the figure has plummeted to 64 per cent – and that is despite a substantial decrease in the number of patients visiting regional A&E departments.

The number of patients waiting more than 12 hours to be seen, while admittedly small, has also gone up.

It is an issue that is being reflected nationally, particularly in terms of waits of more than 12 hours.

Across the UK in August there were 1,304,378 attendances at major emergency departments in the past year, of which 28,756 patients were delayed for 12 hours or more from decision to admit to admission, the second highest number of 12-hour waits on record, 561 short of the record set a month earlier.

President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said: "The data is stark. We are worried about the coming winter. These are the second worst data on record.

"Too many patients are waiting too long. We know long waits contribute to patient harm. In August some patients were waiting up to three days for a bed.

"We must not accept thisas normal. We need to see leadership and meaningful action that gets to grips with this crisis.

"We urge the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, and incoming Health and Social Care Secretary, Therese Coffey, to make tackling the crisis in emergency care a priority.

"The scale of patient harm occurring is shocking. The emergency care system is failing to its core functions; it is vital that we mitigate the impact of this crisis ahead of winter and do all we can to keep patients safe and reduce these dangerous waiting times.

"Thousands of beds are occupied by patients who are medically fit to be discharged, but the lack of social care service means that getting patients home is a slow and complex process.

"This means that hospitals have difficulty in discharging patients in a timely way, leading to exit block, poor flow throughout the hospital and subsequent problems in emergency departments and ambulance waits. The need for investment in social care couldn't be clearer.

"Staff are exhausted, overwhelmed and in the midst of the worst crisis the NHS has ever faced. Widespread shortfalls of staff across all grades and departments mean health care workers are spread increasingly thinly and more prone to burnout – there are currently around 130,000 vacancies in the NHS almost 10% of its workforce."

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