Hospital waits: Patients left in A&E for 12+ hours up by more than FOUR times in 2022

A total of 9,588 patients in London - or 18.9% of all A&E visits - waited longer than 12 hours for a bed in 2022, compared to just 2,415, or 4.7%, in 2021.

More than four times as many hospital patients in London have been left waiting for more than 12 hours in A&E compared to last year, shocking figures have revealed.

The NHS is facing an ongoing crisis, as the usual winter pressures are exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis, medics taking strike action and widespread Covid, RSV and flu viruses.

A total of 9,588 patients in London - or 18.9% of all A&E visits - waited longer than 12 hours for a bed in 2022, compared to just 2,415, or 4.7%, in 2021.

Statistics released by the NHS show that across England in 2021, 12,859 patients - or 3.4% of all A&E visits - waited more than 12 hours, while in 2022 the figure was 54,532, or 14.1%.

Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), said: “December’s performance figures are truly shocking.”

Patients are waiting record times in A&E. Photo: Adobe

He continued: “More than 50% of all patients facing waits over four hours and nearly 55,000 patients facing 12-hour waits from the decision to admit. We know that the scale of long-waiting times for emergency care is causing harm to patients and is associated with patient deaths. We have no more time for inaction and unfulfilled promises.”

In 2022, the London hospitals with the highest percentage of 12+ hour waits were:

  • North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust (46.9%);
  • Croydon Health Services NHS Trust (41.5%);
  • Whittington Health NHS Trust (33.1%);
  • King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (32.8%);
  • And St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (30.9%).

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BMA emergency medicine lead Dr Den Langhor said: “The situation across the country at many A&Es at the moment is intolerable, unsafe, and unsustainable.

“These are often patients who are in the most need of urgent care so delays like this can place them at serious risk.

“Not to mention the tremendous pressure on the hard-working staff desperately trying to keep up with incredibly high levels of demand.

“Despite the government claiming that the NHS has all the funding it needs, they must judge the situation based on the levels of care patients are receiving.

“The longer the government sticks its head in the sand over what is really needed in the long-term, the longer patients will suffer.”

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In 2021, the hospitals with the biggest share of 12+ hour waits were:

  • Barking, Havering And Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (20.7%);
  • North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust (8.6%);
  • Barts Health NHS Trust (7.4%);
  • Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust (5.6%);
  • And Croydon Health Services NHS Trust (4.9%).

Wes Streeting MP, shadow health secretary, said: “The NHS is in the biggest crisis in its history. The terrifying truth is that patients in an emergency can no longer be sure the NHS will be there for them.

“After 13 years of Conservative mismanagement of the NHS, expecting them to fix this crisis is like asking the arsonist to put out the fire they started - it is not going to happen.

“Labour will provide the biggest expansion of NHS staff in history to treat patients on time, and reform the health service to make it fit for the future.

“We will train 7,500 more doctors a year, 10,000 more nurses and midwives, double the number of district nurses qualifying, and 5,000 more health visitors, by abolishing non-dom tax status. Patients need doctors and nurses more than the wealthy need a tax break.”

A DHSC spokesperson said: “This government is fully committed to supporting our incredible NHS making up to £14.1bn available over the next two years on top of record funding.

“More doctors and nurses are working in the NHS in England delivering extra appointments and speeding up diagnoses with the NHS already virtually eliminating two year waits.

“We recognise the pressure the NHS is facing so announced up to £250m additional funding to reduce bed occupancy, alleviate pressure on A&E and unlock ambulance handovers.”