How many emergency patients are waiting over four hours for a bed?

Published: 23rd Aug 2019

In brief

Claim

The number of patients having to wait over four hours for a bed in A&E increased from 83,743 in 2010 to 641,963 in 2018.

Conclusion

These figures are broadly correct looking at the number of patients in England waiting over four hours between a decision being taken to admit them to hospital for an emergency and them actually being admitted.

A Facebook post claims the number of patients waiting over four hours for a bed in A&E increased from around 84,000 in 2010 to 642,000 in 2018. It has been shared hundreds of times.

These figures are broadly correct looking at the number of patients in England waiting over four hours between a decision being taken to admit them to hospital for an emergency and them actually being admitted. During 2010 there were 83,743 patients who waited over four hours to be admitted, as the post claims. In 2018 this had increased to 637,977 patients, slightly fewer than the post claims. These figures just refer to hospitals in England, rather than the whole of the UK.

 As we’ve said before, hospital waiting times aren’t necessarily all about ‘waiting’—the patient may be receiving some treatment during that time too. These figures are also for emergency admissions—not every patient who is an emergency admission will necessarily go through A&E, some might come directly from other places like a GP surgery.

This article is part of our work factchecking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as a true as the figures in the graphic are roughly correct.

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