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3 million patients to wait in A&E for more than 4 hours by next year

3 million patients to wait in A&E for more than 4 hours by next year

2.8 million patients will wait to be seen in A&E departments for more than four hours between October 2017 and September 2018, according to new research.
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Almost 3 million patients will wait to be seen in A&E departments for more than four hours between October 2017 and September 2018, according to new research.

This figure (2.8 million), published by the British Medical Association (BMA) on Monday (30 October), represents an increase of 370,000 on the previous period.

It also means that the perfomance against the target of a four-hour wait time will average 18.6% – a decrease of 1.3%.

Alongside the figures, the BMA warned about soaring waiting times and more A&E attendances due to rising patient demand not matching NHS England resources.

Alarming figures

This winter alone, up to 300,000 patients could have to wait more than four hours at A&E every month, a figure that will rise by three million over the next 12 months, according to the BMA.

To meet patients’ needs in England by 2020/21, the Government needs £30bn, it sugested.

The BMA predicted that without the required funding, the emergency service will see more than two million patients each month for the first time within the next two years.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA chair of council, said: ‘These alarming figures show the scale of the challenge facing the NHS, as demand increases and waiting times rise many more patients are left waiting longer for care.

‘It is clear from this analysis that we need urgent action to close the gap between investment and rising demand on the NHS.’

Last month, the Government promised an extra £13m funding to ‘improve patient flow through A&E’ and ‘help hospitals hit the target of admitting, transferring or discharging 95% of the patients within four hours’ in England by 2018.

But the BMA figures predicted that this target would reach 85% this winter and fall by 83% in winter 2018/19.

Longer waiting times are due to the on going increase in A&E admissions. If the Government doesn’t take major actions, the waiting list for treatment is likely to surpass the historic record high of 4.2m in August 2007 by this time next year. 

'Among the worst'

If NHS England is one of the best health services in the world, it is also among the worst in Europe. The top-ten European economies spend an average of 10.4% of their GDP on health compared to the UK’s 9.8%.

‘With the Budget less than a month away the Government needs to address the fact we spend about £10b less per year on health that other leading European economies.

‘Plugging this gap could fund for example another 35,000 hospital beds or 10,000 doctors, which could transform patient care. The NHS is one of the best health care systems in the world, but it can’t provide first class care on second class investment,’ said Dr Chaand.

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