Worst Week Recorded For A&E Waiting Times For 18 Months

Last Week Was The Worst With Regard To A&E Waits For 18 Months

09.09.2014

NHS accident and emergency (A&E) departments in the UK experienced their worst seven day-period for almost 18 months last week with regard to patient waiting times, leading to concerns surrounding their health and safety.

The Guardian reports that nearly one in ten patients visiting A&E last week had to wait for more than four hours to be seen by a medical professional, while almost 5,000 individuals had to wait on trolleys for up to 12 hours due to staff struggling to find available beds.

Typically, the final week of August is a relatively quiet one for the NHS, but shadow health secretary Andy Burnham explained: "This year it was the worst for 18 months. This is the loudest of warnings that something is now seriously amiss in the NHS."

Figures from the NHS show just 91.3 per cent of A&E patients were treated in the seven days leading up to Sunday September 7th, which is significantly below the 95 per cent target that departments are meant to meet.

Overall, 271,404 patients arrived at their local A&E seeking treatment during the week, with 23,565 (8.7 per cent) not receiving treatment.

However, of those admitted for further tests or care, 4,956 were left waiting on hospital trolleys for between four and 12 hours, marking a huge 73 per cent increase on the previous week.

These struggles were recorded despite NHS figures showing it actually dealt with 26,074 fewer patients than in the week ending July 20th, when A&E departments had a much more successful week with regard to coping.

Other data from the NHS shows the healthcare organisation also missed its target for answering 95 per cent of calls to its 111 service within 60 seconds during July for the fifth consecutive month, with a score of 94.1 per cent, compared to the previous month's 94.5 per cent.

In response, a spokeswoman from the Department of Health commented: "We know the NHS is under pressure with A&Es seeing 3,300 more patients every day compared to 2010. We're giving the NHS extra support to keep services sustainable year-round and in the long-term, we want to reduce demand by looking after people better in the community."

Expert Opinion
Providing patients visiting A&E departments with the treatment and care they need immediately can be the difference between life and death, which makes these reports extremely troubling. Patient care must always be a top priority and it is vital those visiting accident and emergency departments are given medical care quickly and not forced to wait for long periods of time.

“We have numerous cases where patients’ conditions have deteriorated after patients did not receive medical care in good time. Hopefully this report will act as a warning to the national health service and lead to introduction of new measures and support for overstretched A&E departments."
Julie Lewis, Partner