More patients waiting too long in A&E despite it being NHS priority

The NHS is taking longer to treat patients attending accident and emergency departments despite ministers and health officials making A&E waiting times a top priority. The latest official NHS performance figures show that in May, hospital-based A&E units in England treated just 84.6% of patients within their four-hour target time, despite a requirement to treat 95% within that time.

That was down on both the previous month (85.7%) and May last year (85.4%). Medical leaders warned that the figures showed that the NHS could be in for an even tougher winter later this year than it experienced in 2016-17.

Performance has declined since Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, and NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, ordered trusts in March to improve while simultaneously downgrading the duty to give 92% of patients non-urgent surgery within 18 weeks of being referred. Hitting the 95% target was “critical for patient safety”, Hunt said at the time.

“These delays are having a profound impact on patients’ experiences of the NHS and mean that frontline staff are left working under extremely difficult conditions”, said Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the council of the British Medical Association.

Full story in The Guardian, 13 July 2017