Nearly 19,000 NHS patients had to wait three days in A&E over 12 months

Nearly 19,000 NHS patients had to wait three days in A&E over 12 months
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Research has found that almost 19,000 NHS patients had to wait three days in A&E over a 12-month period.

Between April 2023 and March 2024, almost 400,000 people had to wait more than 24 hours in emergency rooms, an increase of 5% on the previous year. Channel 4’s Dispatches program also revealed that 54,000 people had to wait more than two days, a Freedom of Information request to NHS England revealed.

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The investigation exposed “the suffering and humiliation suffered by patients on a daily basis” after an undercover reporter secretly filmed himself for two months while working as a trainee healthcare assistant in the emergency department at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

The “harrowing” scenes in the hospital’s emergency department came as a think tank analyst said people were dying in emergency departments in England “who don’t need to die”.

Footage shows a patient waiting for 30 hours in a ‘fit-to-sit’ area, while a suspected stroke patient sat there for 24 hours, the broadcaster said.

Dr. Adrian Boyle, chairman of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “I don’t think this is unique to this hospital. The things we’ve seen here today are clearly not just limited to winter. It was an emergency room crisis all year long.

“Spending two days in an emergency department is worse than spending two days in an airport lounge. These are people who sit in uncomfortable chairs where the lights never go out. There is constant noise, there is constant stress. There is no end in sight.”

Excerpts from the investigation show an elderly man forced to urinate in a hallway trolley in full view of staff and other patients, while in another a woman cried in pain for hours, Channel 4 reported.

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A total of 18,638 people waited more than three days in A&E during the period, a 60% increase on the previous 12 months. A spokesperson for the hospital trust said: “Like other hospitals, our trust faces significant challenges in emergency care.

“We understand our challenges and are investing in our services and making steady improvements as a trust, as stated in our recent CQC report. However, there is much more to do; we don’t want to be in a position where we have to care for patients in hallways.

“We are deeply sorry that our patients experienced anything less than the quality care we strive for and we are committed to working with partners to improve the care and experience for everyone.”

The spokesperson added that while the trust disputed some of the claims made in the Dispatches programme, it would “fully investigate all claims to identify any lessons learned and embed them in our continuous improvement work”.

The latest figures show that more than one in four people waited longer than the target of four hours in the emergency department, according to Statistics Netherlands. King’s Fund. Patients wait an average of 33 minutes for an ambulance in emergencies such as strokes and heart attacks, compared to the target of 18 minutes, the think tank said.

Undercover A&E: NHS in Crisis – Dispatches – airs on Channel 4 on Mondays at 9pm.

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