January was the worst month since targets were first set in 2004 for delays in Accident and Emergency units across England, NHS data has shown.
Against a target of 95 per cent of patients due to be dealt with within four hours of arriving at A and E, January saw only 88.7 per cent of patients were dealt with properly.
Numbers visiting A and E departments were also up by 10 per cent compared with the same time last year, and both emergency admissions and calls to the NHS 11 service also rose. There were also delays in discharging patients because of services not being available in the community, which has a knock-on effect within hospitals.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also missed the waiting time target, and other areas of the NHS’ performance suffered too – the key cancer target, that patients should start their treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral from a GP, was missed again; it has only been achieved once in the last 21 months.
The target to see patients needing routine operations within 18 weeks was missed for the second month in a row, and ambulances missed their target to respond to the most critical calls in eight minutes – one in three patients waited longer – the eighth month in a row that the target has not been met.
Richard Barker, from NHS England, said: “Against this backdrop it’s not surprising hospitals saw a dip in their performance and it is a credit to all those working in emergency care that we are still admitting, treating and discharging almost nine in 10 patients within four hours.”
Adam Hodson, associate with Medical Accident Group said: “The challenge facing the NHS is considerable, with high demand and tight budgets. This winter, patients have not always been well-served by their hospitals – NHS trusts need to work with local authorities, primary care providers and ambulance services to tackle the blockages at both ends of the hospital system.”
If you have suffered because of this winter’s A and E delays, Medical Accident Group can help. Our experienced and sympathetic team, whose knowledge of clinical negligence and personal injury law is extensive, can support you through the process of making a claim and seeking justice. We can also advise on a wide range of issues from brain injury or birth injury to surgical and medical errors and accidents at work. Call us free on 0800 050 1668.