THE latest data published by NHS England shows that the number of patients waiting 12 hours or more before being admitted in December 2020 is the highest figure since records began.
In all 3,745 patients were spending 12 hours or more in Emergency Departments.
It marks an increase of 75 per cent on last month, November 2020, and an increase of 60 per cent on the same month last year, December 2019.
The contrast with May 2020 is stark where only 93 patients spent 12 hours or more waiting to be admitted, which is equal to a 4,000 per cent increase in December 2020.
Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “These data are truly alarming. While attendances are still down the number of patients spending over 12 hours in the ED has skyrocketed – and these are just the tip of the iceberg.
“We are no longer in a crisis; this is a national emergency.
“Patients should never have to wait for 12 hours or more to be admitted, but there are just not enough beds to admit patients to.
“It is incredibly challenging for staff who have to deliver care in corridors, which is unsafe and unacceptable at the best of times, but now is has the added risk of further spreading covid.
“I cannot emphasise the gravity of this emergency. Hospitals are under intense pressures.
“Ambulance services across the country are struggling to keep up with the number of calls they are receiving; hospitals cannot cope with the number of patients.
“Despite attendances being down, 12-hour waits are higher than ever, partly due to the severity of patients’ conditions.”