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England A&E wait times led to needless deaths of up to 14,000, data suggests

Data indicates that up to 14,000 people in England may have died needlessly in 2022 while waiting for emergency care for as long as 12 hours.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) estimates suggest that around 268 people died weekly in 2023 due to long waits in A&E departments.

This finding is based on an analysis involving over 5 million NHS patients, which linked one extra death to every 72 patients waiting between eight to 12 hours in A&E.

The RCEM's refined estimates, informed by a more detailed audit, reveal that 65% of the lengthy waits were by patients needing a hospital bed.

Over 1.5 million individuals faced over 12-hour waits in major emergency departments in 2023, with the majority awaiting admission. The annual deaths attributed to these delays decreased slightly from the previous year, despite the challenges posed by a severe flu season and COVID-19.

The data highlights the direct connection between extended emergency department stays and increased mortality, emphasizing the urgent need for enhanced hospital capacity and resources.

Despite some progress, efforts fall short of NHS targets and the urgent care recovery plan goals. The RCEM and NHS spokespeople highlight the complex factors contributing to excess deaths and the ongoing efforts to improve emergency care services.

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