Mental health patients ‘waited over 5.4m hours in A&E last year’, Labour claims

Patients across England waited for more than 5.4 million hours in A&E while experiencing a mental health crisis last year, Labour has claimed.

The party gathered information via freedom of information requests about the longest waiting times for adult and child mental health patients since 2010, as well as the total duration patients spent waiting in A&E during the financial year 2022/23.

Last year, one patient at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust waited 278 hours (12 days).

The research found that among child patients, James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Norfolk had the longest wait at 208 hours (nine days) last year.

Shadow mental health minister Rosena Allin-Khan said: “These long, inappropriate waits in A&E are shocking. Patients have borne the brunt of the Conservative Government’s failure to bring down waiting lists.

“The Government should focus on improving services for patients. Instead, they have scrapped their 10-year mental health plan and are dragging their feet on reforming the Mental Health Act.

Shadow mental health minister Rosena Allin-Khan (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)
Shadow mental health minister Rosena Allin-Khan (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA)

“Labour stands ready with a plan to recruit 8,500 additional mental health staff to drive down waiting lists, funded through closing tax loopholes.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We’re going further and faster to transform our country’s mental health services, with up to an additional £2.3 billion being invested annually until 2024 to expand services.

“As a result, more children and young people than ever are getting the treatment they need. We’re investing record sums of funding to boost children’s mental health support, and we’re extending coverage of mental health support teams to at least 50% of pupils in England by the end of March 2025.

“The mental health workforce also continues to grow to help cut waiting lists – one of this Government’s top five priorities. In December 2022, we saw almost 9,000 more mental health staff working than the previous year.”