Hospital Dr News

NHS performance in April hits record lows as pressure on system mounts

Health experts have responded with dismay to the latest Combined Performance figures for the NHS in England.

It was the worst April on record for the NHS, with 15% of people attending A&E spending more than 4 hours from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge.

There was a 7% increase in major A&E department attendances per day compared to April last year.

Nearly 67,000 patients spent over 4 hours waiting on a trolley from a decision to admit to admission, almost 40% higher than the same time last year.

Professor John Appleby, Chief Economist of the Nuffield Trust said: “Today’s figures show that this April was by far the worst on record for the NHS, just when we would expect performance to start improving. It must feel like a never ending winter for overstretched staff.

“Trusts couldn’t be starting from a worse position as new proposed A&E targets start to be piloted this month. Patients will want to know when the end is in sight – currently that seems like a long way away.”

Over 304,000 patients waited more than four hours in major emergency departments – an increase of 38% since last year.

The number of trolley waits of over four hours rose by 39% since last April.

Furthermore, on cancer targets, the numbers of patients seen by a specialist within two weeks of an urgent GP referral and the numbers treated within two months have both fallen.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA chair of council, said: “These shocking performance figures, amongst the worst released by NHS England show that, despite the Government’s ambition for the health service outlined in its Long Term Plan for the NHS, the stark reality for both doctors and patients is a system in deep crisis.

“The first three months of this year were the worst on record for cancer treatment waiting times with over 43,000 patients waiting over two weeks to see a specialist and almost 9,000 waiting over two months to begin treatment. Early detection and diagnosis of cancer is vital if survival rates are to be increased and these waiting times are frankly unacceptable in a modern health service.”

He added: “What the statistics don’t show is the huge burden the NHS is under with significant under investment, staff shortages and rising patient demand impacting on patient care and outcomes, and on the morale and health of front line hospital staff who are struggling to keep the NHS on its feet.”

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