Over 3m patients wait four hours in A&E

Analysis shows 155% increase in the number of patients waiting four hours or more in England

Published on 9th December 2017

More than three million patients who visited UK A&E departments waited over four hours in the past 12 months, analysis by the BBC has found.

The figure is up 120% since 2012-13 when, by comparison, the number of visits has only risen by just over 7% to 26.9 million.

The analysis showed that Northern Ireland has the worst performance, although England has seen the fastest deterioration.

In Northern Ireland, which has seen the biggest rise in people coming to A&E units, just 75% of patients were seen in four hours in 2016-17. England has seen the biggest rise in long waiters - a 155% increase.

In Scotland, 93.9% of patients were seen in four hours in 2016-17 - only marginally lower than the 95% target. Scotland is the only part of the UK performing better than it was four years ago and the number of long waiters actually fell by 9%.

Julia Scott, Chief Executive at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists said: “The number of long waits at hospital A&E departments is simply unsustainable. Hospitals and ambulance services are struggling to cope and subsequently waiting times are rising. In order to change this we must look at new ways of reducing the pressure on urgent and emergency care.
“Back in November 2016 the RCOT published a report which demonstrated how greater use of occupational therapists in A&E departments and in Primary Care could reduce admissions by up to 80%, reduce stays on acute wards by an average of 8.5 days and support rapid and safe discharge from hospital. 

“It is depressing that despite the overwhelming evidence, leaders in too many parts of NHS England have failed to learn the lessons of last winter. We are urgently calling for the whole NHS to recognise that occupational therapy is the answer they are searching for this winter and beyond,” she added.


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