A&E Waiting Times In England At Worst Levels In A Decade

Worst Three-Month Performance Recorded Since Targets Introduced In 2004


NHS England has missed its four-hour waiting time target for A&E once again for the past three months, with performance dropping to the lowest level since targets were introduced in 2004.

Just 91.8% of patients were seen within four hours from January to March, below the target of 95%. Week-to-week performance has generally been below 95% since September of last year.

The overall 2014-2015 target has also been missed, with 93.6% of patients seen within four hours. The targets were introduced in 2004, although the level was initially set at 98% and was only lowered to 95% in 2010.

Doctors have argued that focusing on waiting time targets distorts decision-making. Waiting times are also highly contested by both the Conservative and Labour parties in the run-up to the general election.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: "A&E waits are at their worst level for a decade and patients are finding it harder and harder to see a GP." However, a Conservative spokesperson said in response: "English A&Es see 3,000 more patients a day within four hours than in 2009, and perform better than Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales."

Expert Opinion
The concerns regarding accident and emergency waiting times in England have been in the news for some time and it is very worrying to see performance reach its worst level for ten years.

"Anyone attending A&E does so with the expectation of receiving safe, prompt and vital care when they need it the most, yet the standards set on waits are simply not being met.

"The safety of patients must always come first within the NHS and it is vital that, although targets are not being met, an emphasis is placed on ensuring that the welfare of those needing treatment is not being adversely affected.

"We have seen numerous cases in which delays in care and treatment have had major consequences for patients and the NHS must focus on ensuring that such mistakes are not repeated in the future."
Mandy Luckman, Partner