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Headlined in the Telegraph yesterday and some time before NHS England will release even their November figures, here’s what the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) reported:

RCEM data shows that in the first week of December over 5,000 patients waited for longer than 12 hours in the Emergency Departments of 50 Trusts and Boards across the UK. The sample of trusts and boards from across the UK is the equivalent to a third of the acute bed base in England.


In Scotland, 184 patients waited more than 12 hours in the week ending 24th November. The NHS Scotland December Week 1 data are not yet available, but a comparison seems reasonable, especially given the milder weather in early December compared to that in late November.


The population of England at 56 million is 10.4 times that of Scotland at 5.4 million so, all things being equal, there should have been 1 913 patients having to wait more than 12 hours in England, yet the actual figure was more than 5 000, more than twice as high.

However, the situation may be even worse. In addition to the incomplete data for NHS England the recording of admissions is different from that in Scotland with the effect of reducing the English figures and making them look less bad than they are. President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said:

The key difference in the data is the way in which it is reported. Our data measures the number of patients waiting over 12 hours from the moment they arrive at an ED, whereas NHS England (unlike Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) start the clock at the point at which a decision to admit is made – meaning that a patient could already have been waiting hours before this. The way in which it has historically been reported does our patients a disservice and hides the true scale of the problem of corridor care. These figures are truly shocking and are terrible for patients and staff alike. Many patients are now getting often life changing news while stranded on a trolley in a corridor. This cannot be right, and we must strive to put an end to ‘corridor care’.