Hundreds of patients at hospitals in Greater Manchester faced waits of more than 12 hours to get a bed after being admitted through A&E in December, data shows.
Analysis of NHS England data by NationalWorld show how more than one in 10 patients who were admitted to hospital after turning up at the city-region’s accident and emergency departments in the last month of 2022 faced these long trolley waits to get onto a ward. At one Greater Manchester trust, the waits were endured by nearly one in four people going from A&E to a ward.
Even so, the crisis in the NHS currently means that only one hospital trust in the region was worse than the England average, showing the intense pressure the health service is under. One medical body called the December performance figures “shocking”. Greater Manchester health organisations have admitted that hospital demand remains high and the system was stretched before patient numbers rose over winter.
What does the data show for Greater Manchester?
The statistics from NHS England show that many patients going to A&E and then being admitted to hospital faced long trolley waits before they get onto a ward. The figures for December 2022 show that 561 patients had to wait more than 12 hours before being admitted via A&E at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust. This was 24.7% of all the patients being transferred from accident and emergency into the hospital.
At Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust 13.9% of patients admitted via A&E had to wait more than 12 hours for a bed (312 patients), while at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust it was 12% (780 patients).
At Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust 11.5% of patients (259 patients) going from A&E to a ward had a long trolley wait, while at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust it was 11.1% (797 patients) and at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust it was 11% (282 patients).
However, such are the demands on the health system at the moment that only Bolton’s figure was worse than the England-wide average.
What has been said about these figures?
Medical bodies have slammed the current situation in the NHS and warned that things simply cannot carry on as they currently are. They are calling on the Government to take urgent action and warned that of the terrible impact on patients that lies behind the numbers.
Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), said: “December’s performance figures are truly shocking, Twelve-hour waits from decision to admit obfuscate the truth and are only the tip of the iceberg, we know the reality is far worse. We know that the scale of long waiting times for emergency care is causing harm to patients and is associated with patient deaths.”
British Medical Association (BMA) emergency medicine lead, Dr Den Langhor, said: “The situation across the country at many A&Es at the moment is intolerable, unsafe, and unsustainable. The sharp rise in the number of patients waiting over 12 hours highlights the enormous pressure emergency departments are under.
“These are often patients who are in the most need of urgent care so delays like this can place them at serious risk. Not to mention the tremendous pressure on the hard-working staff desperately trying to keep up with incredibly high levels of demand.”
The medical bodies said that what is needed in the NHS is more investment, fairer pay levels for doctors and other health service staff and a strategy to keep employees in the NHS. Nurses on the picket line during the recent two days of strike action by Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members told ManchesterWorld that poor pay was causing staff to leave or not want to train as nurses and it was becoming increasingly difficult for wards with severe staff shortages to give the desired level of care to patients.
The Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership warned in its latest winter stakeholder briefing that hospital demand across the city-region is high and that the rise in patient numbers over winter has put further pressure on what it said was an “already-stretched” system.
A government spokesperson said: “This government is fully committed to supporting our incredible NHS making up to £14.1 billion available for health and social care over the next two years on top of record funding.
“More doctors and nurses are working in the NHS in England delivering extra appointments and speeding up diagnoses with the NHS already virtually eliminating two year waits.
“We recognise the pressures the NHS is facing so announced up to £250 million of additional funding to immediately help reduce hospital bed occupancy, alleviate pressures on A&E and unlock much-needed ambulance handovers.
“This is on top of the £500 million Discharge Fund to speed up the safe discharge of patients and rolling out virtual wards to free up hospital beds and cut waiting times.”