Accident and emergency units in England have had their worst three months for more than a decade.
Between January and March, just 91.8% of patients were seen within the recommended four hour A&E waiting target.
The target to treat 95% of patients within four hours - covering the point from someone arrives at A&E to when they are either discharged, transferred to another part of the NHS or admitted to hospital for further treatment – was missed for the second quarter in a row.
So far this year 440,000 patients have waited more than four hours for treatment – the worst three month performance since the waiting time target was introduced in 2004.
Major A&E departments have missed their quarterly targets successively since 2012 while the target was missed overall for 2014-15– the first time this has happened since 2003-04.
Despite this, A&E departments in England are currently performing better than Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and over the last 12 months have seen more than 22 million patients, including more than 5.4 million emergency admissions – an increase of 4% on the previous year.
Although NHS staff must be commended on managing to admit, treat and discharge more than nine out of 10 patients within four hours amid unprecedented demand, these latest quarterly figures illustrate the kind of relentless pressure the NHS in England faces every day whether this is in hospital A&E departments or walk-in care centres where patients can be seen for less serious issues without the need for an appointment.
This kind of pressure will only continue unless we see an end to NHS staff cuts particularly in regard to district nurses, and sustained investment across the board, especially in community services.
If the government fails to massively invest in front line care in the community services or recruit more nurses and GPs, hospitals will continue to face ongoing strain and the kind of so-called “winter pressures” lasting all year round.
A&E departments are seeing more patients than ever before and without these remedies, the NHS will continue to see moral plummeting, a rise in medical negligence compensation claims and more and more people missing out on the kind of expert patient care they deserve.
For a free consultation about a medical negligence compensation claim, call our Clinical and Medical Negligence Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers are a leading clinical and medical negligence law firm with 1,450 staff and offices in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Sheffield, Newcastle, Halifax, Wakefield, Merseyside, Cambridge, Derby and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.