Hospital Dr News

Trusts continue to miss A&E waiting time targets as winter approaches

Trusts are falling short of NHS England’s intentions for them to hit A&E waiting time targets and experts warn patients are likely to face unacceptable delays for care this winter.

Official figures show that A&E attendees in September were seen within four hours 89.7% of the time – down from 90.6% a year earlier.

NHS England pledged in March that 90% of A&E attendees would be seen within four hours by September, and then 95% in 2018.

The data has fuelled concerns about the NHS’s prospects for this winter.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “These figures point to an NHS under continued pressure. Staff across the NHS are gearing up again for the busy winter period and will remember the stress of enduring the worst winter on record last year, with patients facing unacceptable delays for care.

“We don’t want to see a repeat of that, this year, which is why it’s vital the entire health system is supported and working well – from our GP surgeries, to hospital wards, to social care.”

The A&E waiting times target has not been hit since July 2015.

The average performance of the NHS’s major A&E units (type one) was 84.6% in September, against 86% for September 2016.

It follows NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens telling MPs this week more funding will be needed from next month’s budget.

Eleven trusts recorded performance at 80% or below, while 34 trusts recorded performance below 85%.

The top performer was Luton and Dunstable University Hospital Foundation Trust with 98.5%.

Nagpaul added: “To ensure the NHS is able to cope with the inevitable spike in demand during the winter period, the government needs to urgently put in place measures to address the funding, capacity and recruitment issues facing the system as a whole.

“Failure to do so will leave the NHS sleepwalking into another, entirely predictable, winter crisis, with patients and the quality of patient care suffering as a result.”

Two trust chief executives were sacked last month, reportedly over the continued poor performances of their emergency departments.

NHS England pledged in the Next Steps for the Five Year Forward View in March that most trusts would be fully compliant at 95% by March 2018, and the whole system would be by the end of 2018.

As part of this process, it said trusts would be at 90% by last month.

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