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March A&E performance data confirms prolonged winter pressures

March A&E performance data confirms prolonged winter pressures

The NHS continues to struggle to meet A&E waiting time targets
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The NHS continues to struggle to meet A&E waiting time targets, as 84.6% of patients were dealt within four hours last month.
 
NHS England monthly performance data for March 2018 published yesterday (12 April) showed a nine percentage point drop in patients being treated within the four hours when compared to March 2017.
 
An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘As expected, these figures for a month ago confirm what was widely reported at the time, namely that during March the NHS continued to experience severe winter pressures.’
 
Year-round crisis
 
The British Medical Association (BMA) warned of prolonged winter pressures that will be felt during the summer, breaking from previous years when summer was seen as a period of ‘respite for the NHS’.
 
Commenting on today’s data, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Today’s new figures show that the ‘winter crisis’ has truly been replaced by a year-round crisis.
 
‘This is unacceptable and simply cannot become the new normal for the NHS.’
 
Data recorded in March showed the NHS could not meet the target to see 95% of patients within four hours and performance worsened when compared with the previous month, when 85% of patients for all A&E departments were looked after within the target, down from 85.3% in January.
 
March also saw 853 patients spending more than 12 hours waiting to be admitted, in comparison with 371 in February.
 
Commenting on the data, Labour’ shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘It’s now clearer than ever that we face a year-round crisis in our NHS, which places the very future of our NHS at risk and requires a sustainable long term investment plan’.
 
A ‘final wake-up call’
 
President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Dr Taj Hassan said: ‘Once again four-hour performance has reached a new low, with March seeing the highest ever emergency admissions.
 
‘This should be the final wake-up call for decision makers and minsters.’
 
Dr Hassan said welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement of long-term funding plans for the NHS but he said that ‘it is disappointing that we have had to get to this point for any meaningful action to even be considered’.
 
‘Far away from reaching the performance standards’
 
Chief analyst at The King’ s Fund Siva Anandaciva said: ‘It is clear that despite considerable efforts from frontline staff this winter, the NHS remains far away from reaching the performance standards that were once routinely delivered.’
 
Referring to their analysis of British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey on public attitudes to NHS funding, showing that 61% of respondents support tax rises to increase NHS funding, Mr Anandaciva said that ‘it is vital that voters are listened to and that the health and care system is given the funding and staff it needs’.

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