Nearly 3,000 elderly patients left waiting more than 24 hours in Leicester’s A&E last year

Nearly 3,000 elderly patients were left waiting more than 24 hoursNearly 3,000 elderly patients were left waiting more than 24 hours
Nearly 3,000 elderly patients were left waiting more than 24 hours
The figure is 742 times higher than five years ago.

Almost 3,000 elderly patients who visited Leicester’s A&E department last year were left waiting more than 24 hours for care.

The figure is 742 times higher than that of five years ago, data collected by the Liberal Democrats via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed.

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In 2019, just four over-65s were left waiting that long in the emergency department at Leicester Royal Infirmary, opposed to 2,969 in 2023.

Across all ages, 4,952 patients waited more than a day in A&E, a figure 225 times higher than five years ago when just 22 people were left that long.

Leicester’s figures are worse than the average increase in delayed care reported by trusts which responded to the FOI request. Across all respondents, there was a 10-fold increase in 24-hour waits for all patients.

The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL), which runs the city’s three hospitals, has apologised to patients and said it is working to improve urgent and emergency care. The trust added it has a frailty in-reach team who work to assess and support the needs of elderly and frail patients in the emergency department.

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It also carries out ‘hourly safety checks which include prompts regarding food and hydration, continence needs, medication, pressure area care and communication’.

UHL’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Sarah Taylor, said: “I apologise to anyone who has experienced a long wait in our Emergency Department.

“We know how difficult this can be and do all we can to provide safe and timely care. People are seen as quickly as possible based on the urgency of their clinical need.

“Like the rest of the country over recent years, we have seen significant demand for emergency care as well as large increases in the number of people needing to be admitted to our hospitals. This continues to affect wait times. Together with our partners, we are focused on improving urgent and emergency care services.

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“We saw several improvements in 2023 including in our monthly 4-hour wait targets, ambulance handover times and the number of discharges we were able to make to free up capacity to care for those waiting. We are committed to making further improvements this year.”

The Liberal Democrats have branded the long waits across the country as “appalling”. Leader Ed Davey said: “It is appalling so many elderly and vulnerable people are being forced to put up with these terrifying waits, as our health service teeters on the brink.

“Behind each one of these figures is a story of someone waiting in pain, worried sick about getting the care they need. We desperately need more hospital beds and a long-term solution to the social care crisis, to end these devastating A&E delays.”

An NHS spokesperson said: “Last year NHS staff contended with significant demand – 393,000 more A&E attendances and 217,000 more emergency admissions compared to 2022 – on top of unprecedented industrial action, high bed occupancy and the usual pressure caused by seasonal illness including Covid and flu.

“Despite these pressures, our urgent and emergency care recovery plan has delivered significant progress for patients.”