12 February 2024 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Revealed: 1.5 million patients waited 12 hours or more in A&E in past year
  • OfWat fines: A gimmick. Money should go back in people’s pockets

Revealed: 1.5 million patients waited 12 hours or more in A&E in past year

  • One in ten (9.6%) patients waited 12 hours or more in A&E over the past year, five times higher than official target
  • Shocking new figures show average of 4,200 patients a day waited 12 hours or more after arriving in A&E
  • At some NHS trusts over one in four patients faced 12 hour A&E delays as Lib Dems warn long waits “becoming the norm”

A staggering 1.5 million patients in England waited 12 hours or more after arriving at A&E over the past year, new analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The figures reveal the true scale of A&E delays over a twelve month period for the first time. Shockingly at some NHS trusts over one in four patients are facing delays of 12 hours or more after arriving at A&E. The Liberal Democrats said it showed that 12 hour delays had “become almost the norm” in some areas.

The previously hidden data from NHS England shows the actual amount of time patients spend in A&E after arriving before being admitted, transferred or discharged. These figures are separate from the regularly published “trolley wait” figures, which only measure the time taken after a decision to admit a patient was made.

The latest figures show that in total 1,540,945 patients faced waits of 12 hours or more after arriving at A&E between February 2023, when the new data was first published, to January 2024. This equates to almost one in ten (9.6%) patients during that period, five times higher than the NHS requirement that no more than 2% of patients should wait 12 hours or more from their time of arrival at A&E. Shockingly it means an average of over 4,200 patients waited over 12 hours at A&E every day over the past year.

January saw the worst figures yet as winter pressures struck, with a record 177,805 or one in eight patients (12.4%) facing A&E waits of over 12 hours. At Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, over one in four (26.3%) patients in January faced A&E delays of 12 hours or more, the worst in the country. This was followed by Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital (25.4%), Lincolnshire Hospitals (24.5%) and Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals (23.1%). By contrast at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, only 1% of patients in January waited 12 hours or more after arriving at A&E.

One 88 year old woman was left waiting in a chair for 16 hours at A&E in Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading in January. Another woman in her 80s waited for 15 hours at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital A&E in December after going in with chest pain.

Long waits at A&E have been linked to significant patient harm. Research from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has previously estimated that for every 82 admitted patients whose transfer to a hospital bed is delayed beyond 6 to 8 hours from arrival, there is one extra death.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:

These devastating delays lay bare the stark impact of this Government’s neglect of the NHS. Every day thousands of patients are being left scared and in pain in overcrowded A&Es, waiting for 12 hours or more to receive the care they need.

Waits of 12 hours or more can have catastrophic consequences for people’s health, particularly the elderly and vulnerable.

No-one should have to wait this long for care, yet in some areas these unacceptably long delays have become almost the norm. It’s time Conservative ministers started taking this NHS crisis seriously, instead of ignoring all the warning signs while patients suffer.

OfWat fines: A gimmick. Money should go back in people’s pockets

Responding to the embargoed announcement by Ofwat, Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson Tim Farron MP said:

This isn’t up to scratch and is a gimmick.

Money should instead go right back in the pockets of the people affected, through compensation from the water firms. Why are people paying for a service they simply aren’t receiving? Conservative Ministers need to get a grip on this and give people their money back when the taps don’t run and water firms mess up.

All those who suffered endless water outages without compensation, especially Thames Water customers, will have their heads in their hands at this latest announcement. This is yet more macho talk from a regulator which is about as tough as a wet paper bag.

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5 Comments

  • Steve Trevethan 12th Feb '24 - 4:29pm

    To whom do the OFWAT fines go?

  • Steve Trevethan 12th Feb '24 - 6:42pm

    From whose pockets do OFWAT fines ultimately come?

  • Steve Trevethan 12th Feb ’24 – 4:29pm:
    To whom do the OFWAT fines go?

    ‘Water company fines to be channelled into environmental improvements’ [November 2022]:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/water-company-fines-to-be-channelled-into-environmental-improvements

    At present, money from fines imposed by Ofwat and those arising from Environment Agency prosecutions is returned to the Treasury. Under the new plans, ringfenced funds will go to Defra and will be invested directly back into environmental and water quality improvement projects.

    This could include initiatives to restore our water environments by creating wetlands, re-vegetating river banks and reconnecting meanders to the main channel of rivers.

    Steve Trevethan 12th Feb ’24 – 6:42pm
    From whose pockets do OFWAT fines ultimately come?

    Ultimately, customers – their principal source of income.

  • Steve Trevethan 13th Feb '24 - 7:38am

    Thanks to Jefff!

    Are we then to understand that the fines come from the customers so that the incomes of executives and shareholders are protected?

    Ditto the positive, environment friendly work of water and sewage management is done by a government organisations and not the water companies?

  • >” the fines come from the customers so that the incomes of executives and shareholders are protected?”
    That’s the nature of the “risk reward”, often talked about with respect to executive pay: they get (excessively) rewarded for taking risks(*), but the costs of those risks fall wholly on others…

    (*) where risks include not doing their job or even taking potentially criminal actions.

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