Strictly embargoed until: 00.01 Thursday 29th March, 2001


Threatened Health Watchdog reveals

Top 20 longest casualty waits


A nationwide snapshot of waiting times, conducted in over 200 hospital accident and emergency units, showed a range of patients still waiting in A&E over a day after arriving in hospital (see attached list).

The UK’s last ever Nationwide Casualty Watch was organized by The Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales (ACHCEW), on Monday 26th March. Community Health Councils are due to be abolished as part of the Health & Social Care Bill, which is currently before parliament.

ACHCEW’s Director, Donna Covey said:

"Some of these figures are shocking. For many people even a one or two hour wait in Accident & Emergency can seem like an eternity. Waits of over 24 hours are clearly unacceptable."

"These figures show that resources are overstretched in many hospitals and it is the A&E departments that are taking the strain. The government’s ‘Winter Report’ brought some welcome news about how the NHS performed during the winter months. But, casualty waits of this length show that the system is now under year round pressure."

Nationwide Casualty Watch figures aim to reflect the full range of the patients’ experience. The full patient wait in A&E is counted. The Department of Health’s trolley wait figures only count time spent waiting, on a trolley, after a decision to admit has been made (both sets of figures are shown on the attached document).

Donna Covey commented:

"We measure waits from the patients’ perspective. The Department of Health’s figures measure waits from a clinician’s perspective. Nationwide Casualty Watch is great example of the work that CHCs do in representing the interest of the public at both a national and local level."

"The tragedy is that if the government gets its way and CHCs are abolished this will be the last ever Nationwide Casualty Watch."


For further information please contact: Murray Benham on - 020 7609 8138



Notes to Editors