Hospitals are not able to cope with current pressures, senior doctors have warned, as a new study links long A&E waits to an increased risk of death.
Patients waiting more than five hours within an emergency department are at an increased risk of dying, according to a study published in the Emergency Medicine Journal (EMJ).
The study’s findings come as emergency care performance across England continues to deteriorate, and as pressures across hospitals mean that more patients are waiting for more than four hours in A&E departments than ever before.
According to the research, death rates for patients waiting between six and eight hours before admission to hospital were 8% higher, and they were 10% higher for those waiting eight to 12 hours. The study was based on data collected prior to the pandemic, and national A&E waiting times have since deteriorated further.
In November last year, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) warned that long delays and overcrowding in A&Es may have caused thousands of deaths during the pandemic.
Researchers said that although cause and effect could not be established between longer waits and deaths after 30 days of hospital admission, they recognised a statistically significant trend.
The paper said: “Long stays in the emergency department are associated with exit block and crowding, which can delay access to vital treatments. And they are associated with an increase in subsequent hospital length of stay, especially for older patients.
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Source: The Independent, 19 January 2022