5,449 patients have died in the U.K. over the past three years because they had to wait so long for a bed in the government-run healthcare system's overcrowded hospitals, a study by leading NHS doctors has found.
Nearly two thousand patients per year "lost their lives since 2016 as a direct result of waiting anywhere between six hours and 11 hours" to be seen, despite being gravely ill or injured, according to research reviewed by the Guardian. The doctors concluded that the deaths were "entirely and solely caused by the length of wait."
John Kell, the head of policy at the Patients Association, said:
"These results are deeply shocking and very worrying. Patients are clearly suffering tragic consequences as well as loss of dignity and discomfort from spending far too long waiting on a trolley for care.
This is as a direct result of sustained underfunding of the NHS and social care and ongoing shortage of hospital beds.
Despite the unstinting efforts of NHS staff, patients can no longer be sure of receiving safe or dignified care if they need to be admitted to hospital. This is an entirely needless and completely unacceptable situation."
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