A&E targets missed by hospitals for second week running

A&E targets missed by hospitals for second week running


Hospitals have failed to hit the A&E target for the second week running as winter pressures set in, according to the latest figures. Data from NHS England shows 94.8% of people were treated within four hours of arriving at A&E against a 95% target.


The total is the same as last week and suggests winter pressures on the health service are starting to take hold. The target is regularly missed by hospitals during the winter months due to factors such as more viruses circulating and higher admissions among older people.


The figures cover all centres – major A&Es, smaller minor injury units and NHS urgent care centres. Waiting times are the longest in the major A&E departments, where only 92.2% were seen within four hours. Two-thirds of the 144 trusts with major units are missing the target, while major units have been below target since July. The data also shows that the number of delays of more than 30 minutes in ambulances being able to hand over patients to A&E stands at 4,913.


The figures came after Dame Barbara Hakin, the chief operating officer of NHS England, admitted to MPs earlier this week the NHS hasd a "significant problem" with ambulances queuing at A&E departments. She was answering accusations that ambulances were "stacked outside A&E departments like planes".


Friday's data also shows there were 1,202 hospital beds closed to norovirus, far lower than the 3,081 in the same week last year when the virus took an early seasonal hold. According to Public Health England, the number of laboratory-confirmed cases is currently a third lower than the average number for the same period in the seasons between 2007-08 and 2011-12.


Hakin said: "Frontline teams across the NHS have again shown how their hard work keeps waiting times down for patients."Despite the very significant pressure, the NHS continues to deliver a good service with 94.8% of those attending A&E treated, admitted or discharged within four hours – just below the 95% target and nearly a percentage point better than the figures this time last year. We must not be complacent but I'm pleased and proud of how staff are responding."


She added: "Although emergency admissions remain very high, they have dropped slightly this week rather than continuing to rise, which is encouraging. The number of cancelled operations remains stable and as expected."Ambulance handover delays are down by 30% compared to the same week last year when the weather was worse.


"The number of calls to NHS 111 that are answered within 60 seconds have again this week dipped below 95%, although satisfaction with the service remains high with 89% of callers satisfied or very satisfied with the service they received. We continue to watch the situation closely to ensure NHS 111 continues to provide a good service."



The Guardian, 20th December, 2013








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