PATIENTS wait up to four days in A&E instead of the target four hours because of the NHS crisis, health chiefs warn.
Top doctors are calling for “urgent action” and a Covid-style major incident as the service collapses under surging demand and staff shortages.
They say dozens of patients are dying every day because of delays.
Ambulance and emergency department wait times have grown to their longest ever in recent months.
Around 40,000 people per month now spend over 12 hours in A&E.
Ian Higginson, of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, called the situation “appalling”.
He told BBC Radio 4: “We’re hearing of patients who are in our emergency departments waiting to be admitted for up to four days. It used to be four hours.
“If you’re in an ambulance car park or a hospital corridor we can’t treat you properly.”
It comes after the College estimated between 300 and 500 people are dying every week because of delays.
NHS figures show that wards are more than 93 per cent full, meaning flow of patients out of A&E and into beds is slow.
People struggling to get GP appointments quickly are turning to hospitals for help, pushing up already record-high demand.
And staff shortages and medics off sick mean there are fewer on hand in clinics.
In November, 31.1 per cent of visitors to casualty waited four or more hours to be seen – a record high.
This surged to a shocking 45.5 per cent in major hospitals’ A&E departments.
In the week before Christmas around a third of ambulances waited longer than 30 minutes to get their patient into hospital – they are all supposed to hand over within 15 minutes.
Dr Tim Cooksley, from the Society for Acute Medicine, said last night: “The current situation in urgent and emergency care is shocking.
“It is in a critical state for patients and it is extremely difficult for healthcare staff who are unable to deliver the care they want to.
“Political leaders across the UK need to listen, meet urgently and accept the need to declare a national NHS major incident.”
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