More than 23,600 patients in England waited between four and 12 hours on a trolley in A&E as NHS crisis mounts, new figures reveal
The number of patients forced to endure Accident & Emergency trolley waits of up to 12 hours has tripled in four years.
New figures from NHS England show that in November, 23,663 patients in England waited between four and 12 hours on a trolley in A&E. In November 2010, the figure was just 6,579. This month also saw 52 patients waiting in A&E for more than 12 hours, compared with just two in the same month four years ago.
The figures show the problems are greatest in London, with 273 waits of between four and 12 hours at Barts Health trust in the week ending Nov 23, and more than 200 in London North West Healthcare and Lewisham and Greenwich trusts.
Senior managers last night said they feared the NHS was entering the worst crisis seen for “at least a decade”.
Experts warned that many hospitals were entering a state of gridlock, forcing growing numbers to face long waits in A&E cubicles, because beds cannot be found.
Record numbers of patients are being admitted via A&E, while levels of “bed blocking” have reached an all-time high, because help cannot be found to assist the elderly at home.
Chris Hopson, the chief executive of the NHS Trust Foundation Network, which represents all NHS hospitals, said that in many parts of the country, services were “overwhelmed”.
He added: “People can’t get appointments with their GPs and that is putting more pressure on hospitals. Meanwhile, reductions in social care mean it’s more difficult to discharge patients, so A&E ends up as piggy in the middle.”
Dr Cliff Mann, the president of the College of Emergency Medicine, which represents A&E doctors said: “The NHS is operating like a bad airline that constantly overbooks people in the hope they will get away with it. Hospitals are just far more crowded than they have ever been, and that means patients being treated in trolleys in corridors, and it means ambulances queuing outside A&Es.”
Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said the Government’s decision to abolish guarantees that patients could see a GP within two days, and cuts to social care budgets, had placed hospitals “under intolerable pressure”. He added: “David Cameron has trapped A&Es in a downward spiral and patients are facing a difficult winter of trolley waits and ambulances queues.”
The Department of Health said: “We’ve given the NHS a record £700 million to buy thousands more doctors, nurses and beds this winter. NHS England has ensured there are plans in every area to manage the extra demand.”
A spokesman for NHS England said it was “pulling out all the stops” to open extra beds using the extra winter funding that has been made available, but admitted that “occasionally” delays do happen.
Hospitals with the greatest number of patients forced to wait between 4 and 12 hours in A&E, week ending November 23:
Barts Health NHS Trust - 27
London North West Healthcare NHS Trust - 237
Lewisham And Greenwich NHS Trust - 232
Doncaster And Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - 193
Barking, Havering And Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust - 186
Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - 180
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust - 165
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust - 148
North Bristol NHS Trust - 147
Medway NHS Foundation Trust - 147
Hull And East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust - 146
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust - 139
Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - 124
Heart Of England NHS Foundation Trust - 117
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust - 110
Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust - 109
North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust - 106
Shrewsbury And Telford Hospital NHS Trust - 103
University Hospitals Coventry And Warwickshire NHS Trust - 91
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust - 82
Source: NHS England
8:15AM GMT 30 Dec 0014