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BMA report finds this will be 'worst ever' winter for NHS waiting times

Lincoln County Hospital has come under pressure due to an outbreak of winter sickness. Credit: PA Images

A report from the British Medical Association has found more than a million patients are set to face huge waits in emergency department in the upcoming months.

Last winter more than 23,000 patients across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire had to wait more than four hours to be seen in accident and emergency.

Now the NHS is braced for its "worst-ever" winter, with pressure on the service set to skyrocket.

The warning from the doctors union comes amid claims at least one patient has had to wait up to 20 hours to be seen at Lincoln County Hospital.

NHS chiefs at the hospital admit there have been long delays in the past few days caused by a sharp rise in the number of very poorly patients attending the casualty department combined with an outbreak of winter sickness.

We have seen a significant increase in the number of very poorly patients attending at Lincoln A&E over the past few days, combined with a reduction in our discharges back into the community.

We are seeing more patients who have winter sickness (norovirus) in particular, and ask relatives and visitors not to visit patients if they have had symptoms in the last 72 hours.

This has resulted in increased pressure at Lincoln hospital, unfortunately resulting in long delays in A&E.

Actions we are taking to resolve the situation include working with partner health and social care organisations to ensure our patients receive the appropriate care as soon as possible, as well as directing patients who visit our A&E to more appropriate services and cancelling some non-urgent operations.

– Simon Evans, Director of Operations, Lincoln County Hospital

The BMA is calling for health spending to be increased by at least 4.1% each year to get the NHS "back on a sustainable footing".

Patients should not fear needing hospital care or being able to see their GP, nor should they have to accept that they may spend hours on a trolley in an Emergency Department, waiting to be treated.

Similarly, staff working in hospitals and GP practices across the country should not be facing the daunting prospect of having to care for those patients in these relentlessly pressurised environments.

This perfect storm is brewing alongside the upcoming general election and politicians should be paying close attention to the fall out of failure to invest in and support our health service for over a decade.

Though the need for urgent funding this winter is pressing, this is not just about the short-term fix.This is about the current, and any future Government, putting the NHS back on a sustainable footing, with capacity to meet the demands on its services.

– Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair