MORE than 100,000 patients have been left in Accident & Emergency departments for more than 12 hours in recent months, amid a five-fold increase in delays, NHS data reveals.
The disclosures triggered warnings of a “serious degradation in patient safety” as the NHS is braced for a surge in A&E pressures over the long Easter weekend.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said waiting times were “going through the roof” with warnings that “the elastic is close to snapping” in some parts of the health service.
The statistics show that over a three-month period, 105,718 patients spent at least 12 hours at major casualty units – almost twice the figure last year, and a rise from 19,322 such cases four years ago.
The figures from NHS Digital show 48,000 delays in January alone.
Yet health officials announced just 985 such delays – because NHS England only discloses the cases where a doctor has taken the decision to admit a patient to hospital.
Now the UK Statistics Authority is to investigate why health officials only publish such cases, amid concerns that a wealth of delays have gone ignored.
Patients’ groups said the latest disclosures covering the period from November to January were “shocking” – amid warnings that A&E pressures could spike again over the four day weekend ahead, as GP surgeries close.