More than 150,000 A&E patients were forced to wait more than 24 hours before securing a hospital bed last year, figures reveal

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More than 150,000 patients endured A&E waits of more than 24 hours before securing a hospital bed last year, marking a tenfold increase since 2019, new figures reveal.

Elderly and frail patients were the worst hit by the prolonged waits, with about two thirds of the 150,000 patients being over the age of 65.

Senior doctors warned that the long waits were likely to lead to the death of patients as NHS delays continue to worsen.

NHS leaders have acknowledged the problem and said they were exploring alternative ways to treat people without the need for hospital admissions. 

According to official data, almost 40,000 patients are forced to wait 12 hours in A&E for a bed each month – a 50-fold increase on pre-pandemic levels and a 600-fold increase since 2015. 

More than 150,000 patients endured A&E waits of more than 24 hours before securing a hospital bed last year, marking a tenfold increase since 2019, new figures reveal (stock image)

Now, new figures obtained from freedom of information requests made by the Liberal Democrats reveal that 153,000 patients across 73 hospital trusts waited more than 24 hours in A&E last year before a bed could be found for them.

The data, reported in The Times, relates only to those patients who required a hospital bed after attending A&E and not those who could be treated and sent home.

The figure is up tenfold from 2019 when just 15,000 patients waited more than 24 hours for a bed.

The Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: ‘It is appalling that so many elderly and vulnerable people are being forced to put up with these terrifying waits as our health service teeters on the brink.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: 'It is appalling that so many elderly and vulnerable people are being forced to put up with these terrifying waits as our health service teeters on the brink'

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: ‘It is appalling that so many elderly and vulnerable people are being forced to put up with these terrifying waits as our health service teeters on the brink’

‘Behind each one of these figures is a story of someone waiting in pain, worried sick about getting the care they need.’

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has estimated that more than 250 patients a week died last year because of A&E delays.

East Kent hospitals had the worst figures of all the trusts that provided figures, with more than 14,000 patients waiting more than a day.

An NHS spokeswoman said: ‘Last year NHS staff contended with significant demand — 393,000 more A&E attendances and 217,000 more emergency admissions compared with 2022 — on top of unprecedented industrial action, high bed occupancy and the usual pressure caused by seasonal illness including Covid and flu.’

However, she insisted there had been ‘significant progress’ for patients with measures such as same-day emergency care.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: ‘Our Urgent Care Recovery Plan, backed by £1 billion in 2023-24, has added an extra 5,000 hospital beds and rolled out 10,000 hospital at home wards to help people be treated in the comfort of their own homes.’

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