An unexpected crisis is developing in the NHS, with performance in accident and emergency departments deteriorating, bucking the normal trend of waiting times being worse in winter than summer, according to the Labour party.
Official statistics released this morning by NHS England on the performance of England’s Accident and Emergency departments last week reveal:
108,301 patients admitted to hospital last week – an all-time high for a single week; 30,102 patients waited over 4 hours for treatment – the highest number for 18 months and twice as many as this week last year; and 6,587 patients waited between 4 and 12 hours on trolleys for a ward bed – the highest number for 18 months and more than twice the number in same week last year.
A&E departments are supposed to see, treat, and admit or discharge 95% of patients within four hours of arrival at hospital, but in the last four weeks the number of patients waiting more than four hours has ranged from 22,231 a week to 24,503.
By comparison, the numbers waiting in the four weeks of November for the equivalent period were between 13,938 a week and 17,372. The figures waiting this summer are also double the number of patients waiting more than four hours in the summer three years ago.
A total of over 16,000 patients were waiting up to 12 hours on trolleys for a ward bed.
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:
“After a week of worrying reports about full A&E departments, it is clear hospitals in all parts of England are struggling to cope.
“This Tory-led Government pushed elderly care services to the brink, leaving people turning to A&E. Whole hospitals are being overwhelmed by the pressure.
“Hospital A&Es in England have now missed this Government’s A&E target for 70 weeks running and Labour has repeatedly warned David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt about the danger of ignoring the warning signs. They have ignored the problem for far too long and now it is threatening to drag down the NHS this winter. It shows they can’t be trusted with the NHS.”