Hospital Dr News

Cash-strapped NHS delivers worst ever performance against key waiting targets

The latest NHS performance figures reveal the worst ever four-hour emergency care stats with just 76.9% of patients being seen within that time at major emergency departments.

In response, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine is calling on patients to write to their MPs calling for action to address the serious challenges facing Emergency Departments across the country.

Dr Taj Hassan, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “Performance that once would have been regarded as utterly unacceptable has now become normal and things are seemingly only getting worse for patients. It’s important to remember that while performance issues are more pronounced during the winter, Emergency Departments are now struggling all-year-round.

“Warnings and pleas for adequate resourcing have repeatedly failed to deliver with both patients and staff suffering as a result. We cannot continue in this situation – which is why we are calling on patients to contact their MP in support of our A&Es and the NHS.”

Data also shows that in February bed occupancy was at 95.1%, significantly above sustainable levels.

Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), supported the call.

She said: “We agree with the RCEM call to patients to tell their MP about the reality on the ground. We suggest they also ask why a health service that has delivered excellent care for 70 years is being failed, and so too every UK citizen. Where does the buck stop?”

She added: “Our latest workforce survey has shown that almost one in five paediatric trainee positions are currently vacant, rising to nearly one in four in more senior trainee positions. This means senior doctors are covering these gaps as well as doing their own job. This is neither safe nor sustainable.

“Our data show that almost 90% of children’s units have expressed concern over how they will cope over the coming six months.”

Richard Murray, Director of Policy for The King’s Fund, said: “For the second month in a row, the number of patients waiting more than four hours after a decision to admit them to hospital from A&E is the highest on record for this time of year.

“At the same time, the number of people waiting over 52 weeks for treatment has risen to the highest level since 2012. This underlines the need for the NHS to ensure that those not treated within the time limits do not experience long delays before they are treated.

“Coming in the midst of the longest funding squeeze in the history of the NHS and growing staffing shortages, the crisis we are seeing in our A&Es was sadly predictable. Unless the government finds significantly more money for the NHS, we face an inexorable drift back to the long waiting times we saw in the 1990s.

“The NHS cannot continue to rely on the motivation and goodwill of staff to paper over the cracks.”

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