Waiting Times Missed For Whole Year

England's Major A&E Units Have Missed Waiting Time Targets For 52 Weeks In A Row


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
England's most important A&E units have missed their waiting times for 52 weeks in a row, according to official figures.

Statistics from all A&E units, including smaller walk-in centres and large trauma units, are compiled to ensure that targets are being met, reports the BBC.

But the government's aim for 95 per cent of all patients to be processed for treatment within four hours of walking through the door have not been met for 52 consecutive weeks, raising questions about the NHS's management of patients with urgent needs.

The last time that the 144 trusts monitored collectively hit their target was on the week ending July 14th in 2013.

NHS chiefs will be hoping to see patients more quickly in the coming days due to the warmer weather which is forecast - normally something that correlates to fewer people turning up to A&E.

In addition, there have been a number of complaints by patients that they are only being seen by doctors just before the four-hour time limit expires - even though the A&E unit may not have been busy at the time.

Dr Cliff Mann, of the College of Emergency Medicine, said: "A lot of this is related to the ageing population and while the percentage rise may seem small we are still talking about a lot of people.

"We have a drastic shortage of doctors and that is hampering our ability to cope with rises in demand."

A spokesperson from the Department of Health said the government is committed to ensuring that the NHS is funded well in the long-term and that it is looking at ways to reduce waiting times in a sustainable way.

However, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham described the situation as a "crisis of this government's making" and called on the coalition to do more to help hospitals reduce delays in patients being seen.

"If this problem is not addressed now, it will drag down the rest of the NHS," Mr Burnham added.

Expert Opinion
These statistics have revealed that long waiting times are no longer seasonal; they are in effect all-year-round. It is extremely alarming that Accident and Emergency departments have not been hitting waiting time targets for a full year and that a lack of doctors is one of the reasons suggested to be behind this.

"It is vital the NHS provides a high standard of care to all patients, which means cutting waiting times at A&E. Lessons need to be learned from units that are meeting targets and the NHS needs to act quickly to implement measures to cut waiting times and improve patient care, which includes increasing the number of professionals with the specialist skills required in A&E departments."
Mandy Luckman, Partner