An 85-year-old man died at Northampton General Hospital (NGH) after waiting for nine hours in the accident and emergency department.
The man is reported to have arrived at the emergency department at around 4pm yesterday with stomach pains.
He was taken into triage and assessed an hour-and-a-half later as anemic with a possible cardiac problem. The hospital had planned to give the man a blood transfusion.
But NGH has revealed the man died just before 1am after his condition deteriorated.
In a leaked email sent to staff - which the hospital has since said was speculation rather than fact - medical director Dr Matthew Metcalfe said the death was a direct result of emergency department pressures.
He said: “Last night, a patient died due entirely to the dangerous overcrowding of the department.
“The risk we have all been aware of, but may have felt hypothetical, has just happened.”
A statement from NGH in the past hour said a 30 per cent year-on-year rise in the number of people presenting at the emergency department had had an impact on patient safety.
The hospital now sees more than 400 patients attend the A&E unit each day, on average.
"Ideally this patient would not have waited so long, would have been reviewed sooner and might have been in a hospital bed at the time of his detereoration," reads the statement.
But it stressed: "We don't yet know what difference this would have made to the final outcome."
The hospital has offered its sincerest apologies to the family of the man and will share the findings of an investigation into his death.
The statement adds: "Equally it is important for us to acknowledge where we could have done more."