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A&E waits getting longer, warns regulator


Waiting times in accident and emergency departments are getting longer, according to a national survey.

However, the survey also found most patients still had confidence and trust in the clinicians who treated them and perceptions of the cleanliness of A&E units has substantially improved.

The Care Quality Commission today published results from the fourth national A&E survey, carried out at 147 trusts in England. It involved almost 46,000 people who attended A&E departments during January, February or March 2012.

There has been a large increase in the proportion of respondents who said they spent more than four hours in A&E to 33%, from 23% in 2004 and 27% in 2008

In addition, 33% of respondents said that they waited more than half an hour before they were seen by a doctor or a nurse, up from 24% in 2004 and 29% in 2008

Many respondents were not told how long they would have to wait to be examined, 59%, compared with 56% in 2004 and 2008.

However, the majority of people – 75% up from 74% in 2004 – still felt nurses and doctors had listened to them.

Over 80% of respondents said new medications were completely explained to them  before they were discharged and there was a big increase in those saying they had enough privacy when discussing conditions with receptionists, up 7% points, although still only 48%.

CQC chief executive David Behan said: “The important issue is that people who need to be treated urgently, do not have to wait, it is disappointing therefore that people have said they have to wait longer to be treated than four years ago.

“It is however encouraging to see that peoples’ perceptions of trust in clinicians and cleanliness continuing to be high and more people than ever saying that they have enough privacy when discussing conditions with receptionists.”


Readers' comments (6)

  • michael stone

    Am I wrong, or do I accurately remember reading that many walk-in centres and some A&Es have been closed down during the past year or two ?

    I can't make too much sense of this, unless I am shown quite a lot of numbers re how many A&Es etc, and how many peopel work in them, etc - I don't have the entusiasm to hunt down the report, but I don't think those necessary details are in the bit above ?

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  • The problem with these sort of surveys is that the people who respond are those most likely to have had to wait excessively, therefore the statistics are likely to be skewed, and show longer waits than reality. Interestingly the previous results from 4 years and 8 years previous also showed more than 5% waiting longer than four hours.

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  • tinkerbell

    "Cracks are beginning to appear in the NHS" - Kings Fund
    A Kings Fund report reveals that there "..are huge risks, particularly in ensuring that quality of care does not suffer with the further financial squeeze. The stakes for patients could not be higher".

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  • tinkerbell

    whilst the statistics are being totted up by the penpushers people will be dying on trolleys in corridors, think it's called 'fiddling while Rome burns'.

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  • From what I understand of this report the Patients Association and the CQC who carried this out are basing the findings on patients perspectives, and in many cases these were retrospective. My father was admitted not long ago and he believed he had been kept waiting for 72 hours in A&E. He was in actual fact there for 3 hours and 50 minutes before moving to the AMU. Because he could not differentiate between the two he would not believe he had left the A&E. This is the case for many elderly people because they are properly admitted when they get to a ward. Anything before that is A&E. I believe this report is skewed in its findings and were published for the shock value.

    It is also interesting to note that the Patients Association are funded by Private Healthcare Organisations so is it really very surprising when they find something else wrong with the NHS?

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  • Mike - you are correct: most WiC have closed (I did my undergraduate degree dissertation on these in 2004). Some have gone completely, some have been taken over privately, some have gone to primary care - others have morphed into local A&E minors or MIUs.

    My own became an Urgent Care Centre 2 years ago and currently, we have been moved into a broom cupboard in the local A&E (whilst still primary care organisation) with a view to TUPE.

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