Waiting times in accident and emergency (A&E) departments are a key measure of how the NHS is performing. In recent years, patients have been waiting longer in A&E; this article from the Kings Fund explores the reasons behind this.
The article reports that not only are more people are attending A&E departments each year, but A&E waiting times have also increased substantially over recent years. The NHS has not met the standard at national level in any year since 2013/14, and the standard has been missed in every month since July 2015.
At the same time, longstanding staffing issues and continued reductions in the number of hospital beds have made it more difficult for A&E departments to admit patients.
Winter is coming. How much would it cost to keep the pressure down? | The Health Foundation | Story via OnMedica
New analysis from the Health Foundation suggests that this winter could see the worst performance against the NHS four-hour A&E target since records began in 2004-5.
The analysis uses projected trends in A&E attendances, the number of people waiting over four hours at A&E, and the number of those needing admission but waiting over four hours for a bed. The projections suggest that around 735,000 people will wait longer than four hours in the last quarter of 2017-18 (January – March), equal to a 311% increase on winter 2010-11.
The NHS aims to admit, discharge, or transfer 95% of people within four hours of arriving at A&E. But in a worsening financial climate, hospitals are now struggling to meet this target all year round, not just in winter.
Speaking at the Reform health conference, Health secretary calls for NHS hospitals to get back to meeting 95% four hour waiting target next year | NHS Providers
Speaking at the Reform health conference today (9 March 2017) health secretary Jeremy Hunt called for NHS hospitals to get back to meeting the four hour A&E target.
The four hour waiting target for A&E has not been met since July 2015. The health secretary has told NHS trusts that target should be hit next year after new funding was announced in the spring Budget.
Responding to the health secretary’s comments on the four hour A & E target, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:
“Despite the best efforts of NHS trusts, performance against the 95% A&E target has declined rapidly over the last few years and that decline has been speeding up, due to the record levels of extra demand. NHS trusts will do all they can to meet the 95% standard but will need very significant extra investment in 2017/18 if they are to do so. We can’t, at this point, see where that money will come from.”
This briefing sets out facts about current A&E performance without underplaying the real pressures facing providers.
The briefing hihghlights the following:
Very few trusts are performing well, as measured by meeting the seeing 95% of A&E patients within the four-hour standard. We expect overall NHS performance for last week against the standard to be between 70 and 80%.
The vast majority of trusts are coping with the demand, in terms of avoiding persistently long trolley and 12-hour waits but some are struggling to do so.
There is a small number of trusts who are failing to cope with the demand and who have seen persistently large trolley and 12-hour waits. These tend to have lasted for short periods as corrective management action kicks in. Clearly, any incident of unavoidable harm is unacceptable and trusts are doing all they can to avoid them.
More than one in 10 patients in England face long delays for a hospital bed after emergency admission. | Story via BBC | The Guardian
There has been a sharp rise in “trolley waits” – the length of time people wait for a hospital bed in England after being admitted in an emergency, figures show. Figures show 473,453 patients waited more than four hours for a hospital bed – a fivefold increase since 2010-11.
Data analysed by the BBC shows 473,453 patients waited more than four hours between October 2015 and September 2016 – almost a fivefold increase since 2010-11.