At least three in five A&E departments in England currently fall below the waiting standards pledged under the NHS Constitution, an independent study has found.
The East of England, North East and Yorkshire, and London have the highest number of A&E departments that have patients wait over four hours.
The research, carried out by personal injury experts at Claims.co.uk, is based on a three-month average of the NHS data from July to September 2023. It has found that at least 122 out of 203 A&E departments in England break the so-called “four-hour standard.”
This refers to having 95% of all A&E patients admitted, discharged or transferred within four hours from arrival. The study focused solely on analysing the waiting times from the moment a decision to admit has been made, known as “trolley wait”, until the patient departed, which means that the total time A&E patients wait from arrival is even longer.
Best and worst in London
King’s College Hospital has the worst A&E queues in London. After a decision to admit a patient has been made, 8.43% of them wait at least another four hours to be admitted, discharged or transferred. Specifically, 6.70% patients at the King’s College Hospital wait between four and 12 hours, while a further 1.73% have to wait over 12 hours.
The trolley wait at the A&E departments under St George’s, Epsom and St Helier, and North Middlesex Hospitals exceeded four hours for over 7% of the patients visiting between July and September 2023. About half of them waited over 12 hours.
On the other hand, A&E departments under Central London Community Healthcare, Urgent Care Centre (QMS), Moorfields Eye Hospital, Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare, Beckenham Beacon UCC, North East London, The Pin unregistered WIC, and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital succeeded in processing all their patients within the recommended four-hour window.
From July to September 2023, not a single visitor of the 103,095 at these A&E departments has had to wait more than four hours from the moment a decision to admit them has been made.
The busiest A&E departments in London belong to the Barts Health NHS Trust. Of the 124,389 visitors here within a three-month period, 3.48% have had to wait between four and 12 hours to be admitted, discharged or transferred. Another 1.38% patients waited more than 12 hours.
60% A&E departments in England break the four-hour standard
Over 60% of NHS A&E departments in England currently struggle to keep up with the four-hour standard for waiting times. Most of them are in the East of England region, where at least 81% of A&E departments break the four-hour standard.
Furthermore, 54% A&E departments across England have had patients wait over 12 hours to be admitted. From the beginning of July until the end of September 2023, the Countess of Chester Hospital has been consistently the worst at A&E queues of over 12 hours. 8.37% of all A&E patients had waited over half a day from the moment a decision to admit has been made to actually being admitted, transferred or discharged.
The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital and the Isle of Wight NHS Trust are currently the second and third worst for A&E queues lasting over half a day. 6.71% and 5.90% of patients, respectively, have had to wait at least 12 hours in an A&E department from the moment a decision to admit has been made.
A spokesperson for Claims.co.uk said, “There is a common sense of gratitude for the NHS staff, especially in light of their dedication during the pandemic period, yet there are systemic elements that unnecessarily prolong the suffering of patients just when they are at their most vulnerable.
“It is shocking that four in five A&E departments in the East of England struggle to provide the urgent care their patients need in their most desperate times. Regional patterns indicate systemic issues. The NHS notes that the four-hour standard has not been met since July 2015.
“More importantly, the data we analysed is about patients who did attend an A&E department, but so many of us can relate to a situation where we avoid going to the hospital at all costs simply because it would take far too long to be seen. For some, this can have irreparable consequences.”