Overcrowded hospitals cause 4,500 deaths as NHS in worst crisis ‘since Second World War’

A report found at least 4,519 patients died as a result of crowding and 12-hour A&E stays – as Sajid Javid warned the NHS is going through its “most testing time since the Second World War”

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks along a corridor during a visit to Hexham General Hospital

Overcrowded hospitals caused 4,500 extra deaths last year as Sajid Javid admitted the NHS is going through its “most testing time since the Second World War”.

A report by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine found that at least 4,519 patients died as a result of crowding and 12-hour A&E stays in England in 2020-2021.

Health Secretary Mr Javid was questioned at the annual conference of NHS Providers about the crisis in emergency care

After claiming the Tories had already provided financial support, Mr Javid said: “I’m not going to pretend for a second that it’s that if that is something that is taking all these pressures away.

“The NHS is under huge pressure as we head into winter with obviously the risk around flu.

“And as nights get darker and colder, there will be more pressure and we have to wait and see how Covid behaves as it is unpredictable.”

The RCEM report came as a second ambulance trust declared a critical incident yesterday.

Vice president Dr Adrian Boyle said: “To say this 4,519 excess deaths figure is shocking is an understatement. Quite simply, crowding kills.

“For many years we have issued warnings about the harm that dangerous crowding causes, but now we can see the number of excess deaths that have occurred as a result.

“October 2021 saw an unimaginable 7,059 12-hour stays from decision to admit, the highest number ever recorded, and 40% higher than September 2021 which was the previous highest on record.

“The number of 12-hour stays has risen drastically for six months and is very likely to rise again in coming months.

“The picture is more bleak as Hospital Episodic Statistics show that 12-hour stays from time of arrival are 21 times higher than 12-hour DTA stays.

The comments were made by Health Secretary Sajid Javid


AFP via Getty Images)

“We now know that at least one in 67 of these patients are coming to avoidable harm. It is appalling. The situation is unacceptable, unsustainable and unsafe for patients and staff.

“Political and health leaders must realise that if performance continues to fall this winter: more and more patients will come to avoidable harm.”

South East Coast Ambulance Service said it had suffered a “significant IT issue” overnight as it urged patients to “consider alternatives to 999 where possible”.

It is the second time in a week that a technical problem has caused an issue with an ambulance service.

On November 10 the East of England Ambulance Service said that its computer aided dispatch and telephone systems experienced a “failure”.

While the systems were back up and running shortly after the problem, the service had to reroute 999 calls to neighbouring ambulance services.

Mr Javid was yesterday questioned about the record 5.8 million waiting list.

He said: “Without taking action it [the waiting list] risks rising to 13 million.

“I’m sure you find it as disturbing as me to even think about 13 million people having to endure lengthy waits to be seen.”

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