A&E waits 'highest for a decade'

Hospital ward Long waits in A&E are rising, but still remain within the government's target

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The number of people in England facing long A&E waits has risen by a fifth in a year - and is now at its highest level for a decade, a report suggests.

The King's Fund review found from October to December 2012 more than 232,000 patients waited more than four hours.

That is a rise of 21% compared with the same period in 2011 and the highest figure for those months since 2003.

A&E doctors blamed a combination of rising pressures and staff shortages.

The number is still within the government's target.

A&E units only have to see 95% of patients within four hours, to reflect the fact that some flexibility is needed to allow doctors to prioritise the patients with the greatest need. The 232,000 figure represents 4.3% of patients.

The think-tank also found evidence of patients who needed to be admitted on to a ward being left on trolleys for long periods of time.

The report - part of the King's Fund quarterly update on NHS performance - also found a growing number of finance directors were concerned about budgets.

'Growing worries'

But there was some positive news.

It said waits for non-emergency hospital operations were holding steady, while infection rates were falling.

Nonetheless, report author Prof John Appleby said: "The NHS faces unprecedented pressures and there are growing worries that patient care will suffer."

College of Emergency Medicine president Mike Clancy added: "The report mirrors the experiences being relayed to us by our members.

"It is clear to us that emergency departments are under pressure and we are concerned about the impact on patients.

"A significant contributor to the situation is the workforce crisis."

But Health Minister Lord Howe said: "We have been absolutely clear that the NHS must find the efficiencies needed to deal with increased demand on the service without compromising on patient care and services.

"We expect the NHS to look seriously at how it can improve how care is provided."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    The biggest problem is the patient!! Cold, flu, constipation are NOT A & E problems but....
    There needs to be an education of the people but the government cuts back spending on any education.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    Having read the article and another printed today re people not attending doctor's appointments, why can't we fine these people who dont attend (say £10), then plough the money back into the NHS. Also, anyone going to A&E on Friday nights, with drink related, self-inflicted problems should also pay. Furthermore, anyone calling ambulances/fire service unnecessarily should also pay a tenner.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Targets and paperwork, cover your back syndrome, and the professionalisation of nursing have ruined our NHS. Those of you who just blame the Tories are guilty of wanting that to be so. I am afraid politicians of all sides are scared of the NHS like they were scared of Murdoch, and until someone has the cojones to really get to grips with care it doesn't matter which party is in power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    @ 92.Moneydude // "I have been to A&E recently on referral from my GP and I had to wait 5 hours for a bloke to spend 5 minutes looking at me to tell me I was fine.

    Your GP thought you were so ill you needed to go to ACCIDENT & EMERGENCY and they said you were "fine"?? Presumably you then walked out and drove home?? Errr, sounds like you're part of the problem mate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Sorry its unsurprising. Whenever I attend a hospital (which I do more than I'd like) the nurses all seem to be carrying papers and the doctors turn up late for their shifts/clinics. Further there's often a triage system which means two queues. How long the patient waits seems to be less importnt than the hospitals self-perceived efficiency and staff convenience

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    This what you get under tories with Cameron & Lanlsey bragging that #NHS & waiting times will be better under tories most ppl knew this was rubbish we remember the 80's & the #NHS under tories.When sell out to the private sector,cut funding sack thousands of experience staff what else do you expect.& The media r party to blame they had a complete new blackout when tories rush though the hoc

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    "...if this is saving the NHS god knows what their idea of it being trashed entails....."

    Condems maintained funding for the NHS.
    Labour had planned to cut it.

    How do you think that would have worked out?

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    5. John_from_Hendon

    Sorry, but if I had an elderly relative with a head wound, I would at least have made some attempt to dress the wound myself to stem the flow of blood, before taking them to the hospital, just for their own comfort. I certainly wouldn't have let them bleed away for hours. A first-aid kit for the home or car is not expensive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Wonderif - When someone is elected to office at national or local level, for the duration of their term they should live on the worst road in their constituency, living on the minimum wage, subject to the local economy and the NHS – then we might see see some honest decisions that will benefit the majority of the electorate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    What happened to Slasher Cameron's pledge to save the NHS...???

    Waiting lists up, more operations being rationed.......

    ...if this is saving the NHS god knows what their idea of it being trashed entails.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Long waiting times at A&E are a disgrace , However people should stop pointing the finger at the government and the NHS. A study once showed that one in five A&E patients had admitted their accident was caused by them being drunk. I'd guess that in any A&E on any given weekend you'll find dozens of people under the influence of drink or drugs!

    Why don't we have them paying for their stitches?

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    David Cameron, 2010 :

    "I'll cut the deficit, not the NHS"

    Er.....hello ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    The problem is, the government runs the NHS as a business, not as the originally proposed "national health service".
    Just bin the lot and be honest about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    A creative solution to the many drug and alcohol users who go to A&E particularly every weekend is needed, for instance if the following week they had a leaflet or a phone call from the substance misuse services, there might be quite a few people who would think twice next time. We also need to pursue aggressively bars that encourage binge drinking or turn a blind eye to drug taking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    I wonder if this report takes into account the growing number of people who are going to A&E with problems that aren't an emergency? Given the rise of people using the EMERGENCY services for trivial matters I'd wager a large amount of people clogging up A&E could be easily dealt with at a GP or pharmacy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Scrap the whole NHS and start over, keep GP's & A&E nationalised, bring in a system where everyone must buy health insurance, which will force the premiums to go down, subsidise those on low incomes to help them pay, introduce incentive schemes that allow "discounts" on insurance payments i.e. those who aid society/community pay less for x amount of time, free HC for troops. Give me HS job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    Surely this is what comes of staff cuts and those who are left to cope with increased volume unable to do their job properly as they have to be clerks as well as doctors and nurses. Cutting staff may cut budgets but it has resulted in poor patient care and in some cases deaths.

    Like the police, doctors and nurses are necessary if the nations health and wellbeing are to be cared for properly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.


    "There is a connection you know."

    Yes, and the best analogy I can think of is it being like a bum on benefits who goes and spends all of their money on cider, then claims they are too poor to afford food.

    The NHS is a beurocratic nightmare. Nearly all of the horror stories we here are as a consequence of a target obsessed management culture..

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    The health of the Nation cannot - and must not - be determined by financial criteria: that simple fact is anathema to the Conservative Party's Sacred Mantra.The happiness, strength of character and, most importantly, a nation's productivity, is largely determined by the collective health of that nation's inhabitants. These are essential things that money cannot buy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    Wonderif - Cameron remembers this:

    Cameron speech 06 Oct 2010
    “Here’s what I think......
    People who are sick, who are vulnerable, the elderly – I want you to know we will always look after you.

    That’s the sign of a civilized society and it’s what I believe. “

    Wonderif - he had any thoughts as to how and when ?!


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