The NHS in England has missed its A&E waiting time target each week this winter
Hospitals are meant to see 95% of patients in four hours, but during the 18 weeks since the start of November that has been missed every week. NHS England has also admitted the 2014-15 average will be below the target – the first time this has happened for a whole year.
Sixty-three of the 140 major trusts missed the target every single week. Just one – Luton and Dunstable – managed to achieve the 95% mark every week.
However, a closer look into the figures does show that although this has been the busiest winter ever for Accident & Emergency Departments nationally, staff have managed to treat an average of more than nine out of ten people within four hours and most patients were in fact treated in under an hour.
From November 2014 to the end of February 2015 just over seven million visits were made to A&Es in England – 190,000 more than the year before. There were 1.82m emergency admissions – the most complicated cases that cannot be dealt with by A&E – an increase of 51,000 on last year.
Ambulances experienced delays on 116,123 occasions from November to the start of March – up 25% on the year before. There were delays in discharging patients nearly 320,000 times – a rise of 29% on the previous winter.
Julie Crossley, a medical injury lawyer at Ashtons Legal comments: “If you read past the headline, the NHS have actually had to deal with an increase in attendance and manage patients who were not able to be discharged for whatever reason. Whilst it is disappointing that they failed to reach their target, they were able to see many patients within an hour. What will be a concern is if these numbers continue to rise, which seems inevitable given growing difficulties seeing a GP and the likelihood of more Care Home closures.”
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