A&E enduring ‘winter of abject misery’ with worst December on record

Crisis-hit A&Es had their worst month on record in December when 2,347 patients spent more than 12 hours waiting on trolleys for a bed.

A record 31.4% of patients at major A&Es waited more than four hours to be seen, while 98,452 waited at least four hours on trolleys, a 65% rise on December 2018 figures.

The data shows the impact of a 10-year funding squeeze that led to an NHS staffing crisis, with 100,000 unfilled posts.

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: “This is a winter of abject misery for patients.”

  • RAF hero, 92, left on trolley for 12 hour in crisis-hit NHS

Dr Katherine Henderson, of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “This is terrible for patients and puts lives at risk.”

Experts fear the worst is yet to come this winter.

Prof John Appleby, chief economist for the Nuffield Trust, said: “We are still awaiting the truly cold winter weather we know will plunge the NHS into further problems.”

A record 2,181,024 people went to A&E last month, up 6.5% on December 2018.

Prof Stephen Powis, of NHS England, said the data “underlines the need for more beds and staff”.

A No10 spokesman said: “We have invested an extra £1billion for immediate hospital upgrades.”

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