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SHOCKING new figures show nearly 400,000 patients waited for 24 hours or more in England’s A&E departments last year.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine, which represents A&E medics, says the very long waits are a “matter of national shame.”
The association unearthed the data using Freedom of Information requests.
Speaking out ahead of its annual scientific congress, college president Dr Adrian Boyle blamed a lack of hospital beds and noted that people caught up in the long waits are often elderly and vulnerable.
He warned that a repeat of the 400,000 figure this year is perfectly possible: “We have seen 12-hour stays continue this year with little change,” he said.
“I think it should be a matter of national shame that we have these very long waits for admitted patients.
“We must not normalise very abnormal situations. 24 hours in A&E is not just a documentary: it’s a way of life for lots of people and it’s a way of life for far too many people.”
Dr Boyle said that the college wants an emergency care system under which people feel they can be looked after safely.
He said that the whole process of receiving emergency care should take no more than six hours, including a person being collected by an ambulance, taken to A&E, handed over to emergency department staff who organise tests and either discharge or admit the patient to the hospital.
“There is good scientific data that shows that once people spend more than about six hours and they need to be admitted into hospital, actually their mortality starts to get worse,” he said.
“This is a fixable problem but requires political will and commitment to sort out.”
Keep Our NHS Public co-chairman and retired paediatrician Dr John Puntis told the Morning Star: “Patients are literally dying waiting for urgent care.
“For government to congratulate itself on planning for a winter crisis of its own making while resolutely avoiding any solution to the industrial action by doctors is confirmation of an administration that has long since lost touch with reality.”
NHS England said it had seen significant improvement since the record demand seen last winter due to industrial action and a “twindemic” of Covid and flu.
The Department of Health & Social Care said: “No patients should be waiting longer than necessary.”
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