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NHS hospital A&E waiting times plummet to worst levels on record

NHS hospital A&E waiting times plummet to worst levels on record
By Anviksha Patel Reporter
17 December 2019

Waiting times for patients presenting at A&E departments in England have worsened again in the past month, according to official data released yesterday.

NHS Digital figures show a record low number of patients were seen in A&E within four hours – 81.4% in November compared with 83.9% last month, and 87.6% at the same point in 2018.

The NHS target is to see 95% of A&E patients within four hours, but this was last met in July 2015.

In contrast, the number of patients in November waiting over 12 hours has more than quadrupled since last year – 1,112 patients were delayed for over 12 hours, compared with 259 in November 2018.

The BMA described the figures as ‘shambolic’ and said the new Government has created the problem, so it must fix the ‘downward spiral’.

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Day one of the new Government and another set of stark NHS performance figures. They are not inheriting a problem, they created this problem and the responsibility ultimately lies with them to fix it.

‘What we are seeing is a health service that is on a downward spiral as this month we see yet another set of shambolic figures. The highest ever number of four-hour trolley waits, 12-hour trolley waits are the highest ever recorded for that month, record low number of A&E attendees being seen within four hours – the list goes on.

‘These pressures are not confined to hospitals as GP practices are now delivering the highest number of appointments on record and the average GP waiting times exceeded two weeks for the first time this year.’

Richard Murray, chief executive of The King’s Fund think tank, said: ‘These sobering figures show the urgent need for the new Conservative government to make good on its promises to focus on our ailing health and care services.

‘The new government made a series of promises to invest in NHS buildings and equipment, recruit and retain more staff and develop a plan for reforming social care. These performance figures underline just how urgently the new Government needs to act on these pledges.’

Dr Rebecca Fisher, a GP and senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation think tank, said: ‘The safety net is the NHS, but even this is at risk of breaking down if the Government does not act swiftly.’

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