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Leaked figures point to worst month of accident and emergency delays in 13 years

Accident and emergency patients in England have experienced the worst month of delays since the four-hour target was introduced 13 years ago, a leaked document suggests.
Waiting-iStock.jpg

Accident and emergency patients in England have experienced the worst month of delays since the four-hour target was introduced 13 years ago, a leaked document suggests.

Provisional data passed to the BBC says that during January, a record number of patients spent longer than the target waiting time in accident and emergency.

Compiled by regulator NHS Improvement, the figures also suggest a record number of people waiting more than 12 hours for a bed after being seen in accident and emergency.

The target, introduced in 2004, states that 95% of patients must be seen and either admitted or discharged in under four hours.

Unsustainable situation

But the document suggests that of 1.4 million visits in January, only 82% were

Accident and emergency patients in England have experienced the worst month of delays since the four-hour target was introduced 13 years ago, a leaked document suggests.


Of 1.4 million visits to accident and emergency in January, only 82%
were dealt with within the four-hour timeframe. Picture: iStock

Provisional data passed to the BBC says that during January, a record number of patients spent longer than the target waiting time in accident and emergency.

Compiled by regulator NHS Improvement, the figures also suggest a record number of people waiting more than 12 hours for a bed after being seen in accident and emergency.

The target, introduced in 2004, states that 95% of patients must be seen and either admitted or discharged in under four hours.

Unsustainable situation 

But the document suggests that of 1.4 million visits in January, only 82% were dealt with within the timeframe, while more than 60,000 people waited for up to 12 hours for a bed after being told they must be admitted, according to the BBC.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson told the broadcaster: ‘These figures have not been verified and should therefore be treated with caution, but they are in line with the feedback we have been getting from trusts.

‘NHS staff have responded magnificently to increased winter pressures, but the situation has become unsustainable.

‘The rise in long trolley waits is particularly worrying, as there is clear evidence they can lead to worse outcomes for patients.’

‘Irresponsible’

Hospitals have not hit the target nationally since summer 2015.

A Department of Health spokesperson stressed that the data was yet to be verified and said the official figures for December were due on Thursday morning.

‘We do not recognise these figures. It is irresponsible to publish unverified data and does a disservice to all NHS staff working tirelessly to provide care around the clock’, the spokesperson said.

‘Despite the pressures of winter the vast majority of patients are seen and treated quickly and hospitals have detailed plans in place to manage busy periods – supported by an extra £400 million of funding.’

Incredible demand 

Royal College of Emergency Medicine president Tajek Hassan told BBC Radio 4 Today that waiting times are putting people’s lives at risk.

‘We are facing an incredible demand on our services. The dignity of care is significantly compromised,’ he said.

‘The international scientific evidence from a number of studies from North America, Australia and the UK shows that the more crowded your emergency departments are, the higher the risk, unfortunately, of dying.’


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