The NHS has recorded its worst performance for the third month in a row, with hospitals missing key targets to treat A&E patients and those waiting for planned operations as well as people suspected to have cancer.
During March hospitals struggled to cope with an increase in demand for care while ambulance services also failed to reach record numbers of patients quickly enough after a 999 call.
The grim statistics prompted renewed concern for the hundreds of thousands of patients who face unusually long delays for care they need and calls for more money for the NHS.
Hospitals in England posted the worst figures for A&E treatment since records began in August 2010. They admitted, transferred or discharged just 87.3% of patients within the required four hours – well below the target of 95%.
The 10 NHS regional ambulance services in England responded to just 66.5% of the most urgent 999 calls for help, called Red 1 calls, within eight minutes. That is far short of the 75% target they are meant to hit and is the 10th month in a row in which they have not met the standard.
Their performance was even worse – the worst on record – for Red 2 calls, which are also life-threatening, such as for a stroke. Ambulance services managed to reach just 58% of such patients, again against a target of 75%.
The appalling figures for March mean that the NHS’s performance in 2015-16 as a whole was the worst it has ever recorded over a full year. The service failed to meet the four-hour A&E target for the second year running, treating just 87.9% of those in hospital-based A&Es within that time.
Full story in The Guardian 12 May 2016