According to an exclusive report by The Guardian, hospital professionals are warning that the amount of time patients over 80 spend in Accident and Emergency (A&E) in England has nearly doubled over the last year, putting them at an elevated risk of harm and death.
Individuals of that age group are spending 16 hours in A&E seeking treatment or a bed, a significant increase from the nine hours reported in 2021, according to research by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM). Additionally, the college issued a warning that elderly patients are at risk due to long delays, hospital overload, and their frequently precarious health.
The RCEM discovered that, while hospitals in England have increasingly struggled to keep up with the spike in demand for care, the average amount of time patients over 60 – and especially over 80 – spend in an emergency unit for treatment has soared in recent times.
As many elderly patients are fragile and dangerously ill, A&E specialists worry they are suffering most from the long waits for medical services and hospital beds across the National Health Service (NHS). Geriatric patients who must stay in the emergency room for prolonged periods of time are more likely to collapse, say doctors who specialise in emergency and elderly care.
The inconveniences old people are experiencing, along with their usually poor underlying conditions, are certainly causing some of them to die, says RCEM president Dr. Adrian Boyle. According to the RCEM, the threats older people encounter while waiting in overcrowded A&E departments are so severe that they are expected to make up a substantial percentage of the 500 individuals who die weekly as a direct result of delays in getting emergency medical treatment.
Throughout 2021 and 2022, the long waits for patients under 20 climbed from four to five hours. However, durations for people aged 60 to 79 increased from eight hours to 13 hours and 20 minutes. Furthermore, the amount of time jumped from nine hours to 16 hours among patients 80 years of age and older.
Due to the scarcity of beds in the NHS, thousands of people each month who have been approved for treatment have to wait hours on a trolley in the A&E hallway. The workers at A&E are concerned about their chances of passing from conditions such as cardiac arrest or losing their ability to breathe because it is difficult to check on them continuously.
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