Third of A&E patients wait over an hour to be seen by staff

One third of A&E patients are forced to wait more than an HOUR before being seen by a nurse or doctor, shocking report reveals

  • Survey of 50,000 patients revealed thousands made to wait in pain last year
  • Found a small number of patients (5 per cent) had to wait longer than four hours
  • Official guidance of 15-minute A&E target was only met for one third of people

One third of A&E patients are forced to wait more than an hour before being seen by a nurse or doctor, a report has found.

A survey of 50,000 patients revealed thousands were made to wait in pain last year, despite official guidance stating they should be seen in 15 minutes.

It also found a small number of patients (five per cent) had to wait longer than four hours before being examined.

The figures were revealed in the Care Quality Commission (CQC) survey for 2018, which looked at 132 NHS trusts across England.

Four in ten A&E patients are forced to wait over an hour before being seen by a nurse or doctor, while a small number (5 per cent) waited more than four hours (file image)

The NHS watchdog found the 15-minute A&E target was only met for one third of people.  

The report also raised concerns over failures to give patients sufficient pain relief while they wait to be treated. 

It found that two-thirds of people were in pain when they attended A&E but that many are not being given adequate pain relief.

Pain management is supposed to start as soon as patients are seen by a nurse or doctor for the first time, according to official guidelines. 

But just over half (55 per cent) felt that staff ‘definitely’ tried their best to control their pain.

Despite the failings, the majority of responses in the report were positive about their experience visiting A&E.   

More than three quarters said they had confidence and trust in staff and were treated with dignity and respect. 


The NHS is on a collision course as it heads into winter with waiting lists for routine operations at an all-time high, experts have warned.

A damning report showed more than 4.41million patients were stuck on waiting lists in England in August – up by 250,000 from last year.

And 662,053 people have waited more than 18 weeks for routine treatments, such as joint replacements – the highest since records began.

Health leaders condemned the figures and said they show the NHS could face its worst winter ever with Brexit, harsh weather conditions and flu on the horizon.

NHS bosses said trusts up and down the country are working ‘incredibly hard’ to prepare for the winter and make sure patients are kept safe.

But the Royal College of Nursing fears more and more patients are going to be treated in corridors as pressure gets piled on the health service.

And the Royal College of Surgeons warned the upcoming winter pressure, Brexit and the NHS pension crisis will create a ‘perfect storm’ for hospitals this winter.

Experts called for ‘swift and far-reaching’ Government action to get the NHS braced for winter. 


Professor Ted Baker, CQC’s chief inspector of Hospitals, said: ‘I’m pleased to see that the majority of people surveyed continue to report positively about their experience.

‘This is despite the pressures that urgent and emergency care services are under and is a testament to the dedication and hard work of hospital staff across the country.

‘However, it is disappointing that in some areas people’s experience continues to fall short. 

‘We cannot ignore the increasing impact of lengthy waiting times particularly for those patients attending A&E departments.’

He added: ‘Patients who are seriously ill and need urgent care should be consistently identified in a timely way, so it is concerning that such a low proportion say they waited 15 minutes or less for an assessment.

‘Information provision when leaving hospital and help from staff with pain control were also areas where people were less positive, pointing to the impact of increased demand and pressures on staff who are at full stretch.

‘We know there are huge challenges in managing demand for urgent and emergency care services. Emergency departments are under considerable and increasing pressure and need the support of the whole hospital and surrounding local health and social care system to manage the workload.’

Chris Graham, chief executive of healthcare charity Picker, which carried out the survey, said: ‘Today’s findings show only marginal improvements in people’s experiences of emergency and urgent care in the NHS between 2016 and 2018..

The lack of progress is disappointing given the system’s policy focus on person centred care – but it is also reassuring, given the widely reported pressures on emergency departments, that standards have at least been maintained from the patient perspective.’

An NHS spokesman said: ‘This increasingly positive feedback, in the context of 2,400 more attendances at A&E every day in 2018 compared to when the survey was last carried out, is testament to the hard work and skill of the NHS’ growing urgent and emergency care workforce.’

Granddad died after SIX HOURS in queue  

Donald Driver in an ambulance in the way to hospital

Donald Driver in an ambulance in the way to hospital 

A pensioner died after spending six hours in a queue of trolleys at A&E.

Donald Driver, 84, was seen by doctors after sliding off a trolley and vomiting at 12.30am – six hours after arriving in an ambulance at the ‘rammed’ unit with his daughter.

Emma Driver said nurses at Coventry’s University Hospital ‘would not listen’ as he lay in a queue of up to 40 trolleys complaining of severe stomach pain on October 13.

He had symptoms similar to a stomach ulcer last year. ‘It seemed to be a case of, “We know best”,’ Miss Driver, 31, said yesterday. The former nurse, from Tile Hill, Coventry, added: ‘Nobody looked at him, no pain relief was given. It was horrific.’

After the grandfather and former engineer collapsed, ‘the nurses helped get him back on the trolley but when I saw his face, I knew he was gone,’ Miss Driver said.

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust offered ‘sincere and heartfelt sympathies’.