The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) said the ‘alarming’ number of people left waiting on trolleys or chairs shows the ‘deep crisis’ facing the NHS.
More than 1,000 patients a day waited 12 hours or more in A&E for a hospital bed last year, a damning report reveals.
It said its figures, obtained from hospitals under freedom of information laws, highlight ‘serious and dangerous levels of crowding’.
And it warned that patients could even be harmed or die as a result of the ‘unsafe, inhumane and undignified’ experience.
More than 1,000 patients a day waited 12 hours or more in A&E for a hospital bed last year, a damning report reveals (stock image)
The results show at least 381,991 people had to wait 12 hours or more after arriving in A&E until they secured a bed in 2021 – equivalent to 1,047 a day.
But the true figure is likely to be almost double that as only 74 of England’s 124 NHS trusts responded to the request.
The NHS in England currently measures 12-hour waits from decision to admit (DTA), which is the point at which a doctor decides a patient needs a bed.
But the RCEM’s Tip of the Iceberg report says this measure is a ‘gross under-representation of the reality of patient waits’, as many will have already faced a long wait in A&E before this decision is made.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) said the ‘alarming’ number of people left waiting on trolleys or chairs shows the ‘deep crisis’ facing the NHS (stock image)
Dr Adrian Boyle, RCEM vice-president, said: ‘These figures are staggering and show the critical state of the urgent and emergency care system…
‘The health service is failing, and failure to act will take it deeper into crisis and inevitably lead to another worst winter on record and further patient harm.’
A spokesman for NHS England said that coronavirus patients had a ‘notable impact’ on bed capacity last year.
They added that staff work closely to ensure people ‘leave hospital when they are fit to do so’.