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Long A&E wait times lead to more than 250 needless deaths a week

More than 250 patients a week could be dying unnecessarily, due to long waits in A&E in England, according to analysis of NHS data.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine analysed the 1.5 million who waited 12 hours or more to be admitted in 2023.

A previous data study had calculated the level of risk of people dying after long waits to start treatment and found it got worse after five hours.

The government says the number seen within a four-hour target is improving. This is despite February seeing the highest number of attendances to A&E on record, it adds.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) carried out a similar analysis in 2022, which at that time resulted in an estimate of 300-500 excess deaths - more deaths than would be expected - each week.

The analysis uses a statistical model based on a large study of more than five million NHS patients that was published in 2021.

RCEM president Dr Adrian Boyle said long waits were continuing to put patients at risk of serious harm.

"In 2023, more than 1.5 million patients waited 12 hours or more in major emergency departments, with 65% of those awaiting admission," he said.

"Lack of hospital capacity means that patients are staying in longer than necessary and continue to be cared for by emergency department staff, often in clinically inappropriate areas such as corridors or ambulances.

"The direct correlation between delays and mortality rates is clear. Patients are being subjected to avoidable harm."

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Source: BBC News, 1 April 2024


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