Nearly 100,000 Elderly UK Patients Endure Prolonged A&E Waits, One Waiting Five Days for Admission

Alarming figures reveal elderly patients in UK facing prolonged A&E waits, with one patient waiting 5 days on a trolley. Experts warn of a growing crisis in the NHS, urging immediate action to address this unacceptable and unsafe situation.

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Sakchi Khandelwal
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Nearly 100,000 Elderly UK Patients Endure Prolonged A&E Waits, One Waiting Five Days for Admission

Nearly 100,000 Elderly UK Patients Endure Prolonged A&E Waits, One Waiting Five Days for Admission

Alarming figures reveal that nearly 100,000 elderly patients in the UK waited more than 12 hours on trolleys in A&E last year, with one patient spending an astonishing five days waiting to be admitted.

The data, obtained through Freedom of Information requests and reported by The Telegraph, shows a staggering 25-fold increase in 12-hour trolley waits for patients over 65 since 2019.

The situation has worsened in most NHS trusts, with the average wait for elderly patients reaching seven hours, compared to six hours for all patients. Shockingly, one elderly patient at Great Western Hospital in Swindon endured a 131-hour wait, equivalent to 5.5 days, before being admitted to a ward after a decision to admit.

Why this matters: The prolonged A&E waits for elderly patients highlight a growing crisis in the NHS, with vulnerable individuals left in distress and at risk of deterioration. The issue raises concerns about the capacity and resources available to provide timely and adequate care for the aging population.

Experts warn that the elderly are being hit hardest by the 'corridor care crisis' in the NHS, with two-thirds of patients facing 12-hour waits in A&E being pensioners. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has expressed grave concern over the situation, stating that these vulnerable individuals are being left to 'deteriorate' while on chairs, trolleys, and in inappropriate areas like corridors and cupboards.

Professor Nicola Ranger, RCN Chief Nursing Officer, described the situation as 'unacceptable', 'unsafe and undignified', noting that staff are also suffering from 'moral injury' due to being forced to work in these circumstances. The RCN emphasized that this is a 'whole system issue' driven by increasing demand on services and a lack of resources in primary care, community, and social care to support the aging population.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Ed Davey, called the situation a 'corridor care crisis' and urged for more hospital beds. Health leaders stated that 5,000 extra permanent hospital beds and more than 10,000 'hospital at home' beds had been created to free up capacity on wards. However, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine estimated that there were more than 268 excess deaths a week related to waits of 12 hours or longer in A&E last year.

Professor Nicola Ranger, RCN Chief Nursing Officer, stressed the urgency of the situation, stating, "This is unacceptable. It is unsafe and undignified for patients, and staff are suffering from moral injury as a result of being forced to work in these circumstances." The RCN has called on politicians to address this problem through investment in services and staff to support a healthy nation.

Key Takeaways

  • Nearly 100,000 elderly patients waited for>12 hrs on A&E trolleys in UK last year
  • One patient waited 5 days before admission, with an average wait 7 hrs for elderly
  • Elderly hit hardest by 'corridor care crisis', facing unsafe, undignified conditions
  • Experts warn of capacity issues, lack of resources to support aging population
  • RCN calls for urgent investment in services and staff to address the crisis