A&E waiting times rise to eight-year peak
A recent report showed that the number of patients that spend more than four hours in the accident and emergency department in NHS hospitals has risen to its highest since 2004.
The study conducted by The King’s Fund showed that, between January and March 2012, 4.2% of patients spent more than four hours in A&E before being discharged or admitted, compared with 3.4% in the same period last year.
John Appleby, chief economist at The King’s Fund, said: “The number of organisations that are in breach of government targets is really worrying. That’s almost one in four hospitals in England. That is not good.”
The government’s national target of no more than 5% of patients facing more than a four-hour wait in A&E was met last year, unlike this year.
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: “This report is highly embarrassing for a Prime Minister who said A&E waits would be one of the tests of his NHS re-organisation. On David Cameron’s watch, the NHS is heading back to the bad old days of chaos in A&E and patients left on trolleys.”
The amount of inpatients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment has fallen, while outpatients remain static. The report also stated that MRSA infections have dropped to 14%.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the figures did not reflect the amount of time people spent waiting for treatment in A&E: “This measure records the total time people spend in the department, including the time they are being treated. It does not just measure waiting. People are waiting on average only 49 minutes for their treatment to start. In addition, the NHS has continued to meet or exceed the target of 95% of patients spending a total time of four hours or less in A&E.”