At least 12,000 patients spent 12 hours or more on hospital trolleys in casualty units in the last year, it has been reported.

Another 250 waited for at least 24 hours and one was forced to wait almost three days on a trolley, the Daily Mail reported.

The newspaper sent freedom of information requests to hospitals asking how many patients were in casualty for more than 12 hours, for more than 24 hours and what their longest wait time was in 2012/13.

It found one patient waited 37 hours at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen A&E and another for 33 hours at Ashford and St Peter's in Chertsey, Surrey.

The Great Western Hospital in Swindon admitted that 12 patients a day have to wait on trolleys in corridors in A&E and at North Cumbria Hospital it happened 10 times a day.

Peter Carter, of the Royal College of Nursing, told the Daily Mail many of those forced to wait on trolleys would be "in distress" and have nowhere else to go

"The types of people on the trolleys for days are the elderly," he added.

"'These are the people who go to the back of the queue. While they are in distress and discomfort, they are not critically ill. It's really distressing to think of patients in their twilight years being treated this way."

Yesterday Downing Street confirmed that David Cameron is getting personally involved in overseeing the NHS's response to expected pressures on casualty departments in England this winter.

NHS national medical director Sir Bruce Keogh will this week publish a report on the long-term vision for A&E, after admitting there was "a feeling that this year is worse" in terms of the winter pressures on casualty departments.

Sir Bruce said a second report, which he will produce before the end of the year, will include "some thoughts on how we can move more closely to a seven-day service in the NHS".

He said: "It comes every year and every year we plan for winter and we focus on three areas.

"One is to try and reduce the number of people attending A&E, the second is to help hospitals function in a more efficient way, and the third is to reduce the congestion in hospitals by trying to help hospitals get their patients home.

"There is a feeling that this year is worse."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "People should not be stuck in A&E for hours on end and these hospitals will need to explain what has happened in these cases.

"We know that 95% of patients are being seen within four hours despite an increase in patients year on year.

"Relieving pressure on A&E is a long-term issue which we're determined to tackle by improving not only the care provided, but also access to care in GP surgeries and elsewhere so people don't have to go to A&E in the first place."

Of the 37-hour wait by the patient in Liverpool, Peter Williams, medical director at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen, said: " This patient received specialist care and constant monitoring in an appropriate and safe environment throughout their stay.

"Our emergency department is equipped to treat very sick patients whose needs can only be met in a high-dependency resuscitation facility within the department. This was not a trolley wait, the patient wasn't waiting for treatment."