Record Numbers Face A&E Waits

Leaked documents have suggested that patients within the NHS system are facing longer waits for Accident and Emergency appointments than at any time since records began.

These latest figures are indicative of the winter crisis that is engulfing the NHS system in England.

This has already prompted intervention from the British Red Cross, and there is little indication that the situation is improving.

Approximately one-quarter of patients waited for longer than four hours in Accident and Emergency departments last week, and only one hospital within the NHS system was able to meet its target.

And huge numbers also faced long waits for a bed when A&E staff admitted them into hospital as emergency cases.

18,000 longer trolley waits were also endured.

These figures imply that approximately 20% of patients admitted for further treatment were forced to wait for an excessive period of time, which is roughly double the rate that would normally be expected.

Some 485 of these waits for more than 12 hours, which is over three times the number seen during the entirety of January last year, with still weeks to go.

The figures have been gleaned from a new document released by NHS Improvement, with the regulator clearly demonstrating that this winter is proving to be the most difficult for at least 10 years.

Since the start of December, hospitals have seen only 82.3% of patients who attended A&E within the four-hour target.

This is quite simply the worst performance since the target was initially introduced, back in 2004.

Chris Hopson, of NHS Providers, has already commented that the level of pressure and challenges being experienced within the NHS system far exceed what can be reasonably expected.

“Trusts are really struggling,” Hopson told the BBC.

However, despite the seriousness of the situation, Dr Kathy McLean of NHS Improvement did state that the data has yet to be verified, and is ultimately intended for internal purposes rather than a verification of the healthcare system.

It could be that the true figures will ultimately be lower.

Regardless of this, it seems facile to assert that the NHS is facing a serious winter crisis, and even McLean conceded that the healthcare system is facing unusually high levels of demand.


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