NHS Accident and Emergency (A&E) statistics for the East and North Herts NHS Trust show that the number of people waiting more than 12 hours from the decision to admit to admission increased by 1,400 per cent between September 2021 and September 2022. 

Only three people waited longer than 12 hours in September last year, compared to 45 people in September this year, according to data by NHS England.

The East and North Herts NHS Trust operates Lister Hospital in Stevenage and the New QEII hospital in Welwyn Garden City. 

Across the same period, the percentage of those attending A&E services and being seen within four hours declined from 50.2 per cent to 46.7 per cent. 

A&E departments across the country have fallen far short of the waiting time target, which is for 95 per cent of attendees to be seen within four hours. Across England, 56.9 per cent of attendees were seen within four hours, down from 64 per cent. 

Waiting times for treatment from the East and North Herts Trust have also increased. Comparing the end of August 2021 with the end of August 2022, the percentage of patients waiting less than 18 weeks from their referral to the beginning of their treatment has fallen from 61.6 per cent to 56.6 per cent.  

This is well below the NHS’s operational standard, which is 92 per cent. The size of the waiting list has also increased, from 54,456 patients to 59,938. 

A spokesperson for East and North Herts NHS Trust said: “The emergency department at Lister continues to respond to and prioritise those patients who attend with a life or limb-threatening illness or injury. 

“We would encourage those with minor illnesses or injuries – such as burns and scalds, suspected broken bones and sprains – to attend the New QEII Urgent Treatment Centre in Welwyn Garden City if you can.

"The waiting time will be shorter and this frees up the staff at Lister to deal with those who most require the services on this site.   

“Alternatively, we urge the public to speak to their local GP, pharmacist or contact NHS 111 by visiting 111.nhs.uk or calling 111 so they can direct you to the most appropriate care.” 

Regarding referral to treatment times, the spokesperson added: “The NHS has experienced unprecedented levels of demand over the course of the past two years and, while staff have worked tirelessly under significant pressures, the pandemic has unfortunately had an impact on the delivery of services. 

“We understand the impact waiting a long time for an operation can have on our patients and we are working hard to reduce this. This includes opening two new procedure rooms at Lister in September ... and extending our opening hours for radiology services. 

“We continue to see our most clinically urgent patients first, including those with suspected or confirmed cancer.”

In September, Lister opened new procedure rooms to help ease waiting times for planned operations. 

A dedicated waiting room area, a six-bay admission and discharge suite, and a block room where patients are given regional anaesthetics are all included in the new development.