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News > United Kingdom

Hospital Waiting Times Caused 14,000 Excess Deaths in the UK

  • A ward in a hospital.

    A ward in a hospital. | Photo: X/ @radionewshub

Published 1 April 2024

Last year, an average of over 268 patients died each week due to waits of 12 hours or longer.

On Monday, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) published a study showing that there were about 14,000 excess deaths in 2023 related to 12-hour-long-or-more waits in the Accident and Emergency Units (A&E) in the United Kingdom.


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The RCEM made the research using a method called the Standard Mortality Ratio, which calculates that there will be one additional death for every 72 patients that experience an eight-to-twelve-hour wait prior to their admission.

It revealed that more than 1.5 million patients waited 12 hours or more in 2023, and estimated that an average of over 268 patients died each week due to waits of 12 hours or longer.

"We talk here about ratios and calculations, but it is vital to remember that each one of these deaths was of a person with loved ones and families who will forever be left asking 'what if'," said Adrian Boyle, president of the RCEM.

According to a delivery plan for the recovery of Urgent and Emergency Care (UEC) services, Britain's National Health Service (NHS) has set a target that 76 percent of patients be admitted, transferred, or discharged within four hours by March 2024.

However, the RCEM research found that, in February 2024, only 56.5 percent of patients met the four-hour target, a fall of 1.5 percentage points compared to when the plan was announced.

"We cannot continue with these inequalities in care, avoidable delays, and deaths," Boyle said, calling for "substantial investment and a commitment to resuscitating Emergency Care" for both the clinicians and the patients.

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