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Posted on 10th February 2017

Delays at A&E hit worst level yet

Data leaked to the BBC show that A&E wards were hit with their worst delays in a decade last month.

More than 60,000 people waited between 4 and 12 hours for a bed. There were a further 780 who waited over the recorded 12-hour limit.

There were 1.4 million visits to NHS A&E departments in January 2017. 82 per cent of those who attended were seen within the four-hour target, that has been in place since 2004. However, the target for hospitals is to see 95 per cent of patients in this limit. 

The 95 per cent target has not been met since the summer of 2015.

Lisa Munro-Davies, vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said the figures don’t reflect how bad the situation is, and says their own research suggests the numbers seen in the time limit were as low as seventy-nine per cent.

She said: “An urgent correction of funding to both emergency medicine and social care is imperative.” Stating that the situation is made worse by high numbers of well patients being trapped and unable to be discharged.

The Department of Health said it “does not recognise” the figures leaked to the BBC, but released its own figures for December’s performance, which are equally as bleak, with only 86.2 per cent of patients in A&E being treated in four hours. 

In leading A&E departments this figure dropped below 80 per cent, the first time this has ever happened.

The Department of Health data showed a rise in delays for planned treatment. At the end of December 376,877 patients had been waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment. 

Neurosurgery is currently the worst performing speciality. Richard Kerr, consultant neurosurgeon and a council member of the Royal College of Surgeons, told The Times: “Patients who need brain or spinal surgery are some of the sickest we will see in the NHS so it is exceptionally worrying that they have some of the longest waiting times.”

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, representing hospitals, said: “The health service is doing more for more people than ever before but despite its best efforts, it cannot keep pace with the additional demands that are being placed on it.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said: “Patients are paying the price as target after target is missed and standards of care deteriorate. These are some of the worst figures we have seen. Experts are saying that standards are being pushed back 15 years or more. Behind each of these statistics is a patient suffering and in unacceptable discomfort.”

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