Davey warns ’10 days to save NHS’ as figures show long waits for A&E admission

Senior medics warned of a “shameful, shocking” and “dangerous” situation for patients attending England’s A&E departments as figures showed almost 440,000 patients waited 12 hours or more to be admitted last year.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) said patients were being forced to wait for hours or “even days” on trolleys, increasing the risk to their lives.

Analysis of NHS England figures by the Liberal Democrats showed 439,411 people waited for 12 hours or more after a decision to admit had been made in 2023/24, up from just 3,262 in 2018/19.

RCEM president Dr Adrian Boyle said: “These figures, and our own research, clearly evidence the shameful and shocking reality of poorly patients who need to be cared for on hospital wards having to wait many hour hours, even days, often on trolleys in corridors because there is not enough capacity in the system.

“There simply are not enough beds to admit people to, often because the people in those beds are medically well enough to go home but can’t because of inadequate or delayed social care support.

“It is not just a matter of inconvenience or lack of dignity, which is bad enough. The longer people’s in-patient admission is delayed, the greater the risk the risk to their life.”

Society of Acute Medicine president Dr Nick Murch said: “The Liberal Democrats’ continued focus on health and social care and, in particular, dangerous waits and overcrowding in emergency departments is very much needed and should be followed by the other parties for the remainder of this election campaign and beyond.

“Failure to address this adequately in the election campaign with meaningful debate and honest discussions about sustainable solutions inevitably means that acute medical patients will be languishing in corridors for the foreseeable future leading to severe harm and earlier deaths. This is a national emergency and must be recognised as that.

“This is an unacceptable new normal. Sadly the burden of risk is borne by the most vulnerable patients: older patients and those with heart disease and cancer. This shame must end.”

The Lib Dems have pledged a £9 billion boost to health and social care as part of their General Election manifesto.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said: “There are now 10 days left to save the NHS. This election is a chance to end the shocking scenes of people having to wait 12 hours or more in A&E, often in pain and in overcrowded waiting rooms.

“Years of chaos and neglect under this Conservative government have left the NHS on its knees. Patients are being catastrophically let down.”