One in three patients wait more than an hour at A&E because departments are struggling to cope with high volumes of patients

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UPDATED:

01:49 GMT, 7 December 2012

One in three patients are waiting more than an hour to be seen in A&E, a report shows.

It reveals that waiting times are rising across hospital emergency units struggling to cope with higher volumes of patients.

One in ten patients are waiting more than two hours and three per cent have to wait longer than four hours.

A third of patients spent more than four hours in A&E, compared to 23 per cent in 2004, a new report has revealed

Waiting times are rising across hospital emergency units struggling to cope with higher volumes of patients

The Care Quality Commission report also found that a quarter of patients say they do not always trust the doctor or nurse treating them,

One in 20 said the A&E unit wasn’t clean, with 12 per cent being unhappy with the state of the toilets.

A fifth said they weren’t always treated with dignity or respect and the same proportion said they didn’t always get enough privacy.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘These findings are symptomatic of a system under huge strain because of a lack of beds and staff.

‘People should not be waiting an unreasonable time to be admitted and treated but, when the country’s health care needs are increasing and already over-stretched hospitals are losing resources, it is sadly inevitable that waiting times will increase.’

The watchdog surveyed 46,000 patients who were admitted to A&E between January and March this year. It found that 29 per cent waited at least an hour to be seen, up from 27 per cent in 2008.

And five per cent of patients who were brought to hospital by ambulance had to wait in the vehicle for longer than an hour.

More babies are being delivered by doctors rather than midwives as births become more risky

More babies are being delivered by doctors rather than midwives as births become more risky

Health professionals say A&E departments are becoming increasingly overstretched due to higher volumes of patients.

This has partly been blamed on patchy out-of-hours GP services as well as rising numbers of alcohol-related admissions.

But
many departments are understaffed – last year, Mid Staffordshire NHS
trust was forced to bring in Army medics to help run its unit.

The
Government has also been blamed for the rise in waiting times, after
last year scrapping a target that 98 per cent of patients should be seen
within four hours, claiming it had ‘no clinical justification’.

Former health secretary Andrew Lansley replaced it with a target of 95 per cent of patients being seen in this time-frame.

David
Behan, commission chief executive, said it was ‘disappointing’ that
patients were having to wait longer than they did four years ago.

He
said: ‘People should be seen, diagnosed, treated and admitted or
discharged as quickly as possible and this is an issue that trusts need
to urgently tackle.’