New NHS data has revealed the scale of long waits for A&E across England and how patients could best try to avoid them.
The comprehensive figures show the number of attendances and percentage seen within four hours – an NHS target – in the year up to spring.
The dataset also shows what days and times were the busiest for A&E departments across the country.
Overall, the number of attendances shot back up to pre-pandemic levels, rising to around 24 million compared to 17 million.
Around 77 per cent of patients were seen within four hours – down from 87 per cent the year before.
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Patients arriving late at night and in the early hours of the morning tended to have to wait longer than at other times during the 2021-2022 period.
Around half of those who arrived between 11pm and 5am had to wait for more than four hours, according to NHS data for England, while around 6 per cent were seen in an hour or less. This was the worst time period for waits in the year up to spring.
The situation improved each hour until mid-morning, after which patients started to have to wait longer again.
Patients tended to be seen quickest at 9am, with 23 per cent seen within four hours, followed by 8am, when the figure rose slightly to 24 per cent.
Waits were longer after midday, with 31 per cent waiting for more than four hours, and longer still after 5pm, when around 40 per cent faced this wait.
The new NHS dataset also shows the busiest times and days of the week for A&E last year.
The largest number of patients filed into emergency departments on Mondays: 3.6 million in total and around quarter of a million more than on Tuesdays, the next busiest day.
Late morning on Mondays saw the greatest influx of patients out of any other time and day, with 272,631 attending A&E at 11am.
Around 4am on Wednesdays and Fridays was the quietest time for England A&Es, when just over 30,000 patients came through the doors.