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A&E Units Miss Key Four Hour Waiting Target

Bosses At The Department Of Health Described The Current Winter As "Challenging"


Last week NHS England missed its four-hour waiting time goal for the first time this winter, new figures from the BBC reveal.

While targets dictate that patients should be seen within four hours in 95 per cent of cases, this only happened 94.8 per cent of the time - down from 95.6 per cent the week before.

Although the figures cover major A&Es, minor injury units and urgent care centres, it was emergency departments that bore the brunt of higher demand and poor staffing levels, as only 92.2 per cent were seen within four hours.

Overall, two thirds of the 144 trusts that reported back to NHS England missed a target at least one of their institutions - the first time since April earlier this year.

While it is not unusual for the 95 per cent target to be missed in busy winter periods in the lead up to Christmas, the government will likely be disappointed the £400 million it invested in A&E units was not effective.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health (DoH) made it clear they were disappointed in the figures published by the BBC, but said it was obvious this winter would be challenging.

"We have always been clear that this could be a difficult winter - and there could be more difficult weeks ahead. But the majority of patients continue to get the excellent care they deserve," the representative added.

This disappointment was mirrored by NHS England chief operating officer Dame Barbara Hakin, who said last week was by far the busiest this winter, with 415,000 people attending A&E units.

Dame Hakin commented: "We knew this winter would be difficult but it is important to stress the NHS continues to deliver a good service. This is thanks to the hard work and dedication of our frontline staff."

Earlier this year, a spokesperson for the DoH remarked the NHS was prepared for a tough winter and would endeavour to always meet its 95 per cent target.

Expert Opinion
It is disappointing to see that the target was not met, as goals like this are set to ensure that patients can expect a good standard of care and support from Accident and Emergency departments.

"The key issue is that the drop is slight and has narrowly missed the target at a time of year which is of course difficult. Nevertheless, hopefully lessons can be learned which will ensure that improvements are seen in the coming weeks and months."
Lisa Jordan, Partner