Patients are waiting longer in A&E Departments than at any time for 9 years; new analysis shows. The report from The King’s Fund has indicated that a proportion of patients spend more than four hours in A&E and this has increased by more than a quarter over the last year; reaching its highest level since 2004.
The monitoring report from the King’s Fund showed that in the final quarter of 2012-2013, 5.9% of patients – 313,000 people – waited four hours or longer in A&E, the highest level since 2004.
The Telegraph says the King’s Fund figures reveal that the A&E waiting time target was breached by almost 40% of all trusts during the three month period – an increase of 50% on the previous quarter and the Independent reports that waits before being admitted from A&E into hospital of more than four hours, have also risen to almost 7%, the highest level since 2004.
John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund, told the BBC there was no single explanation for the “spike” in waits, but an ongoing squeeze on the NHS budget was “one of the key reasons”. He said:
The other thing to remember is that these emergency departments are not working in isolation – they work with other parts of the hospital. If you haven’t got the beds for people flowing through then you very quickly back up into A&E.
The Health Minister, Daniel Poulter has claimed that the long waiting times in A&E in the final quarter of 2012-2013 were down to unusual factors such as bad weather and an outbreak of norovirus.
It is unclear whether the Government plan for GPs to resume out of hours responsibility will alleviate the strains on our NHS A&E Departments but until a solution is found, and with continuing budget cuts, our concern is the impact this is having on the standard of care provided within our hospitals. Unsurprisingly Neil Hudgell Solicitors continue to deal with numerous claims against Hospital Trusts following substandard treatment in our A&E Departments. We are concerned that we may see a rise in such claims in light of the recent report from the King’s Fund.