TENS of thousands of patients were left waiting more than four hours to been in A&E wards and Southend and Basildon Hospital.

NHS data revealed there were 13,556 occasions in 2018-19 at Southend Hospital when the target was missed.

This is equal to about 13 per cent delayed against a target of five per cent.

The proportion of patients seen within the target time at the trust has dropped in recent years - the figure stood at 92 per cent in 2013-14.

Mike Quinn, director of operations and emergency and unscheduled care at Southend Hospital, said: “We are not meeting the standard due to both consistently high admissions and a high number of beds being prioritised for acutely unwell patients.

“We are working closely with our healthcare partners across the region to address the issues of capacity and patient flow.

“One initiative that is helping us is the addition of our rapid assessment and treatment area.

“This purpose-built area means patients are seen much sooner by a senior decision maker when being brought in by ambulance.

“This means patients who need to be admitted are identified earlier.

“We have also implemented our electronic TeleTracking system which gives us a real-time view of bed availability, ensuring patients are admitted to the right ward first time.”

At Basildon Hospital, 9,955 patients had to wait more than four hours to be seen.

This means 94 per cent of around 153,000 attendances were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours of arrival - only one per cent shy of the NHS target.

A spokesman for Basildon Hospital said: “We have significantly improved our A&E performance this year.

“It currently sits at 93.52 per cent, compared to 87.72 per cent previously.

“This is one of the best performances in the country.

“In May this year, Basildon Hospital was first nationally for type one emergency performance.

“Type one refers to consultant led 24-hour services such as a major A&E department.

“Our aim is always to see and treat our patients as quickly and safely as possible, and do our best for every patient.

“We are very proud of our staff whose continued focus is to provide high quality care for all of our patients.” Work is being carried out to improve the figures.