Lib Dems hit out at Sunak as more than 100,000 older patients wait over 24 hours for a bed

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has said he fears the failure to solve the social care crisis may be the cause of increasing delays facing older patients in accident and emergency (A&E).  

New data from freedom of information requests by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that more than 153,000 patients were forced to wait over 24 hours in A&E before being admitted into hospital last year. 

This is 10 times worse compared to figures from 2019 and is a 16% increase from 2022. 

Davey said: “It is appalling that so many elderly and vulnerable people are being forced to put up with these terrifying waits, as our health service teeters on the brink.  

“These numbers expose the reckless damage done by this Conservative government’s neglect of the NHS and care.” 

Those 65 and older made up two thirds of the total number of patients who had to wait more than 24 hours. 

Credit: Ian Taylor/Unsplash

Despite the prime minister and government prioritising the reduction of NHS waiting lists, figures continue to soar. 

This trend falls in line with the general percentage increase which had seen more patients across all age categories waiting longer than four hours between January 2013 and September 2023 in England. 

The 24-hour wait time for the elderly is way beyond the “four-hour standard” target, a goal set out in the Handbook to the NHS Constitution in 2010.

It stated that at least 95% of patients in A&E should be admitted, transferred, or discharged within four hours. 

The 95% threshold was changed in December 2022 to 76% as part of the government’s two-year plan to improve NHS services which they hoped would be reached by March 2024.  

However, according to the NHS tracker, out of the 14,510 arrivals to the Kingston NHS Trust’s A&E department, 74% of patients were attended to within four hours, missing the amended recovery target. 

These statistics mirrored a similar story across the country with the last time the recovery target was achieved being in 2015. 

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has calculated that around 14,000 people died in England in 2023, whose deaths could be linked to severe delayed waiting times in A&E.  

This figure is equivalent to around 268 deaths per week throughout last year. 

Over the last few years, NHS staff have had to meet significant demands as the number of those in England attending A&E has continued to rise post-Covid.  

Lack of availability of social care has meant that hospitals and trusts have found it harder to discharge frail elderly patients.  

The Liberal Democrats have criticised the Conservative government, demanding more fully staffed hospital beds and that they create a long-term solution to the social care crisis to reduce the number of patients waiting for care.  

In February this year, the prime minister admitted to failing to tackle long waiting lists but appeared to place some of the blame on ongoing industrial action by NHS staff.  

He said: “Industrial action has had an impact. And in November we had a month where there was no strikes for the first time. 

“And you know what happened to the waiting list? They fell by almost 100,000.” 

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The podcast editor and reporter for Kingston Courier.

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