Over 40 per cent of accident departments in England are failing to provide pain relief quickly enough to elderly people with hip fractures, according to the hospitals' inspectorate.
After examining 170 accident and emergency departments the Healthcare Commission found that 42 per cent of people with hip fractures, experiencing moderate to severe pain were given relief in the form of analgesia within an hour.
The British Association for Emergency Medicine recommends that people in severe pain should be treated within 20 minutes of assessment.
Analysis of the A&E departments was conducted last year and the results given to hospitals so improvements could be made.
By March 2005, 47 departments had improved, with levels of pain relief given within an hour increasing by 70 per cent.
Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker said that A&E departments had made big improvements in the time people waited for treatment.
"A&E departments now have to go the extra mile if they are to deliver the care that patients need and that means focusing on quality," Ms Walker said.