Lincolnshire hospitals have seen A&E waiting times soar compared to recent years, with statistics showing almost 2,000 people waiting more than 12 hours to be seen to so far this year.
Figures published by NHS England looked at admission and waiting times at Accident & Emergency departments in hospitals across the country, and the findings in Lincolnshire were alarming.
At sites run by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, including Lincoln County Hospital and Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, there were 1,936 patients waiting longer than 12 hours for admission from the A&E department in the final quarter of 2021/22 (January-March).
Comparatively, in the same time frame last year (2020/21), there were 44 patients waiting this long, and just one patient waiting over 12 hours in 2019/20’s final quarter.
As well as this, the number of people attending A&E has risen from previous years, with 48,910 total attendances at ULHT-run sites in the final quarter of 2021/22, compared to 40,860 in 2020/21 and 45,178 in 2019/20.
These figures suggest a rise in people going to hospital towards pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels and even beyond that, as restrictions are lifted and people feel more comfortable going to A&E without fears of contracting the virus.
The findings come as ULHT declared its second critical incident of 2022 on Thursday, citing “exceptionally high demand” for services across the county, as well as the effects of an arson attack at Lincoln County Hospital last month.
A total of 62.1% of patients were seen within four hours between January and March 2022, down 10% from last year’s percentage and paling in comparison to the 69.3% recorded in 2019/20, as the pandemic was starting to ramp up.
This equates to 18,527 patients waiting longer than four hours from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge
A spokesperson for ULHT told The Lincolnite: “As a trust, we are seeing a continued unprecedented demand on our urgent and emergency care services.
“We are experiencing month on month increases in A&E attendances, and often these are also patients who are much more poorly than we have seen in recent years.
“The acuity of our patients results in them requiring a longer length of stay on our wards for treatment, which means less frequent discharges. The impact of this is a longer wait time for beds for those who need to be admitted.
“As a Lincolnshire system we are working really hard to ensure that we can do everything we can to reduce the burden on our emergency pathways, whilst ensuring that we can continue to offer emergency care to the people of Lincolnshire when they need it.
“Despite the current demand, essential services remain fully open for anyone who needs them so if you require emergency medical help, please continue to come forward.”