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Accident and emergency 2012

Image of an accident and emergency sign

Read the results of our latest survey which asked people about their experiences of accident and emergency (A&E) departments in 2012.

Eligibility and participation

  • Participants: almost 46,000
  • Response rate: 38 per cent
  • Age range: 16 years and older
  • Time period: January, February or March 2012
  • Eligibility: Patients who attended a major A&E department
  • Exclusions: Patients that attended a Minor Injuries Unit or Walk-in Centre, those who visited A&E to obtain contraception or who suffered a miscarriage or another form of abortive pregnancy, and patients with a concealed pregnancy.

Key findings for England

33 per cent of respondents spent more than four hours in A&E – up from 27 per cent in 2008 and 23 per cent in 2004.

More people said they waited longer at A&E departments and spent more time waiting to see a doctor or nurse.

  • Nearly a quarter of patients who arrived by ambulance had to wait more than 15 minutes before they were transferred to staff (one in 20 people had to wait for more than an hour).
  • 33 per cent of respondents said they spent more than four hours in A&E – up from 27 per cent in 2008 and 23 per cent in 2004.

The majority of participants were also not told how long they would wait for their examination.

Other findings

The majority of respondents said they:

  • had confidence and trust in the doctors and nurses working in A&E departments.
  • could ‘always’ or ‘sometimes’ get the attention of A&E staff when they needed it.
  • felt they had sufficient time to discuss their health problems with medical staff.
  • had been given the right amount of information about their health or treatment.
  • felt they were given enough privacy and were treated with dignity and respect.
  • felt the A&E department was ‘very clean’ or ‘fairly clean’.

However, some patients felt that communications with A&E staff were unsatisfactory. Almost half of the participants:

  • weren’t warned about possible side-effects of the medication they were prescribed.
  • did not feel their home or family situations were considered before they left hospital.

Results for England

The national summary describes all findings for England as a whole.

The results tables include comparisons with findings from the surveys carried out in 2004 and 2008 and identify statistically significant changes.

Results for NHS Trusts

These results show how trusts performed on questions that could be scored in each area covered by the questionnaire.

The technique used to analyse these results allows us to identify which trusts we can confidently say performed 'Better', 'Worse' or 'About the same'.

View the A-Z list of A&E survey results by NHS Trust.

More about these results

The results of this survey can be used by members of the public to help them find out how well A&E departments in the NHS are performing. NHS Trusts can also use them to improve their own performance.

The results will also feed our Quality and Risk Profiles which contribute to our inspections of health services.

For detailed information on how we score NHS Trusts, please read the technical document below.

Benchmark reports

Each trust was provided with a benchmark report on its scores in the survey. This enables them to benchmark their performance against all other trusts and identifies areas for improvement.

The information in the benchmark reports provide more detail about the data contained on our NHS Trust pages.

Download the individual benchmark reports for each trust from the NHS Surveys website.

Pre-release access list

You can find a list of individuals that had access to the results of the survey prior to publication below.