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Long A&E wait times could become normalised, new research shows

According to analysis of official data by the Liberal Democrats NHS wait times are coming down at an alarmingly slow rate, severely impacting patients and staff.

The research, which was published at the beginning of this week, displays that more than 1.5 million patients in England had to wait 12 hours or longer in A&E in the past year.

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In January 2024, 177,805 patients faced waits of 12 hours or more, which equates to 5,735 people per day. Overall, between February 2023 and January 2024, 1,540,945 patients experienced long wait times.

Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrats health spokesperson said: ‘Everyday thousands of patients are being left scared and in pain in overcrowded A&Es, waiting for 12 hours or more to receive the care they need. These devastating delays lay bare the stark impact of this government’s neglect of the NHS.’

In addition to impacting patients, these long wait times are also a heart-breaking example of how stretched NHS hospital staff currently are. The number of people who had to wait more than 12 hours in A&E departments before being admitted skyrocketed to 54,308 in January – the second highest figure on record.

However, despite this horrifying figures, the government are continuing to say that hospital performance is improving.

A spokesperson from the department of health and social care, said: ‘We’re determined to continue improving patient care, having already delivered on our promise to create 5,000 extra permanent hospital beds and 10,000 hospital at-home beds, freeing up capacity and cutting wait times.’

Although, officials are yet to trust the current government’s promises. Previous research from the Royal College of Emergency has highlighted that once people wait more than around six hours and need to be admitted into hospital, their risk of dying begins to increase. With wait times in January being so high, ministers have claimed it is vital that more work needs to be done.

Copper added: ‘Waits of 12 hours or more can have catastrophic consequences for people’s health, particularly the elderly and vulnerable. No one should have to wait this long for care, yet in some areas these unacceptably long delays have become almost the norm. It’s time Conservative ministers started taking this NHS crisis seriously instead of ignoring all the warning signs while patients suffer.’

Image: camilo jimenez

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