England's A&E Waiting Times Improve

NHS Bosses Cautiously Optimistic Following Slight Improvement


A&E waiting times in England improved slightly last week, prompting "cautious optimism" from NHS bosses. 92.9% of patients were seen within four hours last week, up from 92.3% the week before.

The improvement came despite a rise in attendances from 401,000 to 407,000, but waiting times are still below the 95% target, which has not been achieved since September. Performance in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales is worse still.

Major A&E units are struggling the most – the figures fall to 89.1% when small walk-in centres or minor injury units are excluded.

However, the small improvement has proven encouraging for NHS England as the figures at the beginning of the year were the lowest level since the target was introduced in 2004.

Dr Sarah Pinto-Duschinsky of NHS England said of the improvements: "A&E performance moved in the right direction week-on-week giving cause for cautious optimism, with more than nine out of 10 patients being admitted, treated and discharged within four hours.

"This has been achieved in the face of increased pressure on A&E with both the number of attendances and emergency admissions having gone up this week."

Expert Opinion
It is welcome to see that, after a difficult few weeks, waiting times across England have improved. It is vital that work continues to push the figures closer to the 95% target, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that patients are getting access to vital, essential treatment and care when it matters the most.

"The safety of patients should always be a priority for the NHS and all of them deserve to have access to medical support when they require it. There remains much work to be done in this area and it is vital that improvements continue to be seen going forward."
Mandy Luckman, Partner