Record numbers of hospital patients wait 12 hours on a trolley

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has worked on reducing ambulance handover delays. Picture: Chris Bishop

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has worked on reducing ambulance handover delays. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

A record 269 people in Norfolk and Waveney spent more than 12 hours on a trolley in hospital waiting to be admitted onto a ward last month, shocking figures reveal today.

Nationally the NHS set worst-ever records for the percentage of patients seen within four hours, the number waiting four hours on a trolley, and the number waiting 12 hours on a trolley, while local hospitals posted record or near-record worst performances.

The figures are another reminder of the huge pressures staff and the health system are under before the NHS hits its busiest period. They come the week this newspaper has been investigating the state of our NHS.

Waiting on a trolley

Ambulances queuing outside the Norfolk and Norwich hospital yesterday

Ambulances queuing outside the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Tuesday October 12 2021. - Credit: Archant

More than 100,000 people in England spent more than four hours waiting on a trolley in September 2021, the highest number since records began.

At the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) the number was 1,259 in September.

At the James Paget University Hospital it was 582, while the Queen Elizabeth Hospital hit a record 1,034, and West Suffolk recorded a new record high of 419.

Earlier this week a woman died at the JPUH while waiting in an ambulance.

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Twelve hours on a trolley

More than 5,000 people nationwide spent more than 12 hours on a trolley waiting for a bed on a ward in September, an all-time record and hugely up on the second-highest figure of 3,825 in January.

That included record numbers at all the region's hospitals: 73 at the NNUH, 118 at James Paget, 558 at the QEH and 20 at West Suffolk.

Too many people coming in, too few leaving

Attendance at A&E remains hugely higher than before the pandemic, as patients continue to struggle to access GPs, mental healthcare and dentists.

All Norfolk's hospitals remain at near-record attendance levels, up as much as 50 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.

And lack of beds in the care sector for recovering patients has been identified as a problem at every regional hospital - there is a lack of places for recovering patients to go which makes finding room for new patients harder.

Not seen within four hours

The NHS has a target that 95 per cent of patients should be treated, admitted or discharged within four hours of arrival at A&E.

Nationally in September that figure was 75 per cent, the lowest on record.

All Norfolk's hospitals dragged the national average.

The NNUH managed 69 per cent, the JPUH 63 per cent, and the QEH a record-low 64 per cent.

Slowest ambulance response times since records began

Ambulances queuing outside the Norfolk and Norwich hospital yesterday

Ambulances queuing outside the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Tuesday October 12 2021. - Credit: Archant

For every category of call-out, the East of England Ambulance Service posted its slowest response times since comparable records began in November 2017.

For Category 1 (immediate threat to life) the NHS target is an average response time of seven minutes, and within 15 minutes nine times out of ten. 

EEAST managed an average response time of 9m55s, and attended nine out of ten calls within 17m57s.

For Category 2 (threat to life) the target is an average of 18 minutes, but EEAST clocked an average of 48 minutes.

For the least urgent calls the NHS target is nine out of ten responses within three hours - EEAST took more than nine hours.

A spokesperson for the NHS in Norfolk and Waveney said: “We are continuing to see high demand at our Emergency Departments across and we continue to work closely with our NHS partners and the ambulance service to make sure patients are seen as quickly as possible.

"Attendances in the Emergency Department are exceeding pre-pandemic levels and staff are working very hard to care for every patient who needs to be seen.”

"Patients can help by contacting NHS 111 first if they need medical advice and seeking help from their community pharmacist or walk-in centre for minor injuries and ailments."

Read our whole series: NHS On The Brink

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No space for NHS patients at Norfolk's dentists

Get used to telephone appointments,  top GP tells patients

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