Leeds and Wakefield hospital patients face long delays

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Hundreds of people have been stuck in A&E departments waiting for a bed as hospitals face a winter crisis.

Latest figures show big increases in waits of more than four hours to be found a place on a ward at hospitals in Leeds and Wakefield last month.

NHS England said 1,512 people waited for more than four hours at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, up by more than 370 on November.

And at Mid Yorkshire 
Hospitals Trust, the figure increased from 481 to 1,414 in December.

Trudie Davies, Mid Yorkshire’s director of operations, said: “When our wards become full we have to do what we can to find beds for those who are admitted via A&E and this can take time, which means patients may have to wait a little longer once we have decided to admit them.”

It has also emerged that millions of pounds was spent opening extra hospital beds to cope with demand even before the busy winter period started.

The NHS spent £1.5m opening “escalation beds” at Leeds hospitals between March and September last year.

For Mid Yorkshire the figure was almost £680,000.

The Yorkshire-wide total was more than £5.5m.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals said it had opened a further six wards as part of its annual winter plan. Deputy chief executive Suzanne Hinchliffe said: “As demand for health services continues to grow, hospitals need to be able to create additional bed capacity to provide the care that patients need.

“Very significant pressures are now seen throughout the year, although they are greater during the winter months.”