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Record 420,000 patients waited more than 12 hours in A&E in 2023 – analysis

A record 420,000 patients had to wait for more than 12 hours in A&E last year, marking a 20 per cent increase in delays since 2022.

Analysis of the latest NHS England figures by the Liberal Democrats has shown that one in 15 A&E patients faced a lengthy “trolley wait”, marking the highest number since records began in 2011.

This amounts to a total of 419,560 over the course of the year – an average of 1,150 patients a day.

The number of people in hospital with flu is the highest figure so far this winter (Jeff Moore/PA) (PA Wire)
The number of people in hospital with flu is the highest figure so far this winter (Jeff Moore/PA) (PA Wire)

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey criticised the “appalling delays” and accused Rishi Sunak’s government of “ignoring the suffering of patients and driving our health service into the ground”.

The party also pointed to a postcode lottery, with almost half of patients at some trusts, such as the North Middlesex University Hospital Trust, waiting for more than half a day.

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey criticised the ‘appalling delays’ (PA)
Lib Dem leader Ed Davey criticised the ‘appalling delays’ (PA)

Significant waits in A&E have been linked to excess deaths and increased harm to patients, as their condition could deteriorate before they are admitted or given a bed on a ward.

Sir Ed said: “Every year A&E delays are getting worse and worse under this Conservative government as hospitals are starved of the resources and staff they need. These appalling delays are leaving often vulnerable and elderly patients waiting for hours on end in overcrowded A&E departments.

“It is simply unthinkable that Rishi Sunak is now choosing to slash funding for the NHS further, while handing big tax cuts to the banks. This will just pour petrol on the flames of the NHS crisis.

“People deserve so much better than this Conservative government that is ignoring the suffering of patients and driving our health service into the ground. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to fix the NHS and ensure people can access the care they need.”

Significant waits have been linked to excess deaths and harm to patients (PA)
Significant waits have been linked to excess deaths and harm to patients (PA)

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our urgent and emergency care recovery plan is already cutting both A&E waits and ambulance response times compared to last year – but we know there is more to do.

“We are on track to deliver an additional 5,000 permanent staffed hospital beds this winter and have met our target to deliver 10,000 virtual ward beds, allowing patients to recover from the comfort of familiar surroundings.

“We recently provided £800m to support capacity in the NHS and help patients get the care they need as quickly as possible this winter.”